We spoke to Katie Brewer, MSN, RN and Senior Policy Analyst at the American Nurses Association, the largest nurse’s organization in the United States. We wanted to hear from her about her take on the nursing professions outlook – for both the present and the future. Here’s what she had to say.
What role does your organization play in the lives of nurses?
ANA empowers nurses to be professional, competent leaders in healthcare. ANA speaks for all 3.1 million registered nurses on matters of practice, policy, advocacy, and professionalism. ANA authors nursing’s foundational documents – Scope and Standards of Professional Nursing, Nursing’s Social Policy Statement, and the Code of Ethics – which are the fundamental traits, behaviors, and societal values of the profession. ANA is the voice of nursing as a national advocate for registered nurses and the patients we serve.
What do you see as the future of nursing?
Through the passage of the Affordable Care Act, our nation’s health system will be transformed into a nation of healthcare
are as opposed to sick care. There will always be a role for nursing in the traditional sense of promoting healing and recovery from acute or chronic illness, but there is also exponential potential for nursing to improve the lives of people through wellness, health promotion, and prevention. Community-based nursing, meaning caring for people in times of health and of illness in their homes and communities as opposed to the hospital, offers incredible opportunities for nursing to work independently. It will exploit the full potential of nurse’s expertise, training, and competency.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge in the nursing field today?
We are at the cusp of a major nursing shortage – many nurses are approaching retirement age, and the recession has led to a false resolution of the shortage. As the economy improves and more nurses are financially stable enough to retire, many will do so. This will occur about the same time as almost half of the US population reaches retirement age (the baby boomers), and there will be intense demands on the healthcare system both from the fact that many older people require healthcare, and the fact that access to services will be greater than ever thanks to ACA.
What are some of the best nursing opportunities available today?
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what specialties and what regions are the most bountiful in terms of nursing jobs, since we lack specific data to these facts. However, we know that care of older adults – meaning traditional long term care services but also geriatric primary care and home care services will be in great demand. Also, as the ACA gives millions of people access to health insurance, and as the emphasis goes towards primary care, there will be great need in that field as well. Also, we need nursing instructors. Recruitment to nursing as a profession has been so successful that many nursing schools do not have sufficient faculty to handle the volume of applicants they get. Some nursing schools are so selective they have hundreds of applicants applying for just a few dozen spots. Nursing instructors, especially for baccalaureate programs, are needed more than ever!
What is the biggest need in nursing?
We need dedicated, caring individuals who feel compelled to care for humanity in health and in illness to become nurses. We need more nurses to consider advanced degrees, both to progress in their careers or to teach nursing school. We need more funding from nursing education grants to help achieve these goals. And we need to advance our profession for the betterment of patients, communities, and our nation.
If someone were just starting out their training, what course of education would you recommend?
The ANA has, since 1965, supported the bachelor’s degree in nursing as the entry to the profession. Not only does it give the most comprehensive clinical and theoretical education, it gives nurses a much better opportunity to explore the incredibly wide array of nursing jobs – from public health to policy. (Most of these jobs require a BSN.)
What would you say to someone is thinking about beginning a career in nursing?
Nursing is one of, if not the, most rewarding health profession. You have the opportunity to interact with people at their most vulnerable moments, and to positively impact someone’s life by caring for their most intimate need – their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It is not always easy, and it takes a great deal of emotional and even physical preparation. But, the career choices are almost endless, and it’s one of those professions that are almost like a special club, there is such camaraderie among nurses! It truly is the most noble of professions.