Preventive care creating more nursing jobs
The Affordable Care Act of 2010, along with skyrocketing health care costs across the board, is leading to a major change in American health care as providers move away from a focus on acute care (i.e., treating only illness) in favor of preventive care. Meanwhile, nursing as a profession has been in a growth phase for decades, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts continued strong job growth for nurses over the next 10 years. Are these two trends related?
“The move to preventive care following health care reform is a welcome paradigm shift,” says Glenda Tali, MSN, RN, APRN and campus college chair for nursing at the University of Phoenix Hawaii Campus. “Patients will be required to take responsibility for their lifestyles and health choices. This can benefit nurses by providing more opportunities to practice in the community and in home settings, in addition to clinics and acute care settings.”
“Thousands more Americans will be added to the rolls of insured patients and those patients will need not only acute care for illness and injury, but also health education to prevent disease and promote health,” Tali explains. “Nurses are in a great position to use their education and experience to take advantage of these opportunities.”
Opportunities abound beyond hospital settings
Nurses can expect to work in a variety of different settings in this new health care marketplace, according to Tali. “Some examples of nursing positions that have a heavy emphasis on preventive care are community health nurses, public health nurses, school nurses, parish nurses and nurse practitioners.” Nurses who work in community outreach and patient education can even find themselves working in unusual places, like grocery stores or public recreation centers.
“I foresee the biggest job-growth area in nursing over the next 5-10 years to be for nurse practitioners,” says Janeen Dahn, MSN, FNP-C and assistant dean of the University of Phoenix College of Nursing. “With the Affordable Care Act implementation and last year’s Institute of Medicine recommendations around the nursing profession both emphasizing preventive care, the role of nurse practitioners is expanding exponentially as they become primary care providers for millions of people across the nation.”
A focus on community health
Preventive care includes a greater focus on community nursing and patient education, which opens up a whole new environment for nurses to work, according to Sonja O’Flynn, ARNP, a women’s health nurse practitioner and University of Phoenix instructor.
“The area of nursing I think will expand the most over the next few years is community outreach nursing,” says O’Flynn. “Areas of study I recommend for nurses considering community health nursing include examining available community health resources, interpersonal communication and the business aspects of health management. The nurse who understands all of these things within the context of health care is the nurse who rises to the top.”