It’s a chaotic time to be working in healthcare. Even before the pandemic, an aging population was putting a strain on our medical system, with personnel and space shortages.

When COVID-19 hit, things got even more hectic and challenging.

The modern nurse’s role is changing as we navigate the rapid shifts in the healthcare industry.

Fortunately, many of those changes are positive for people who want to make a difference in the lives of others.

If you’ve been thinking about pursuing a career in nursing, here are 5 important ways the profession is changing:

1. Career Options are Expanding

Traditionally nurses have been in the sole role of caring for patients.

While that is still at the core of their duties, there are new opportunities opening up that give nurses more options in their careers and more flexibility in their lives.

Due to the shakeup in demand and staffing across the country, for instance, travel nursing has become a great option for nurses who want to tour the country and work in different places while helping to fill personnel shortages.

This career option offers more flexibility and allows nurses to explore new areas.

Another option for nurses is becoming a nurse practitioner (NP). NPs have more responsibilities and require more education, but they have a lot more autonomy, provide direct care, and make more money.

It’s a great choice for nurses who want more out of their career but don’t want to go the route of getting an MD.

2. Nurses Are Having a Global Impact

Globalization has changed the way we interact with our world and international communities.

Now that we have advanced methods of communication, international aid has become more common.

Nurses have the opportunity to have a global impact by participating in medical mission trips in areas with healthcare needs.

Medical mission trips can be beneficial in rural and/or low-income areas all over the world. Nurses who want to provide aid to people who are struggling while having a unique experience can get a lot out of medical missions.

It’s important, however, for nurses to work with reputable organizations that put a lot of thought into how their impact can be meaningful, lasting, and non-exploitative.

3. Healthcare Opportunities Are Becoming More Specialized

There will always be a need for general nurses. But the good news is that for nurses with more specific interests, there are now opportunities for specializing in different practice areas.

There are pediatric nurses who work with children, psychiatric nurses who work with mentally ill patients, and even forensic nurses, who help patients when a crime has been committed.

Nurses can even contribute in areas like biotechnology!

4. Education is Becoming a More Prominent Topic

Nurses need to be highly educated in order to safely care for patients. But in the past, ongoing or advanced education was not emphasized much in the nursing field.

Now, that’s changing as healthcare organizations shift greater responsibilities onto nurses.

More nurses are choosing to get BSN, MSN, and doctoral degrees to meet these needs and to advance their careers.

Demand for nursing specialties is increasing, as is the need for nurse practitioners and nurse educators.

With the shortage of qualified nurses, the industry needs more people with advanced nursing degrees to train and lead.

This opens up satisfying and well-paid positions for nurses who are willing to get more education.

5. Technology is Providing More Flexible Care

Being a nurse is often stressful. Juggling different responsibilities, managing time crunches, dealing with difficult patients and colleagues, and experiencing intense emotions are all part of the job.

But as the nursing shortage grows, those stressors are only getting worse. Nurses today are overworked and burning out.

Technology might be able to provide some of the answers, in the form of medical robots. Robot nurses aren’t here to take nurses’ jobs but to make them easier.

The goal of “Moxi,” one medical robot, is to take on some of the tedious, repetitive tasks that nurses do. These tasks don’t involve working with patients and take time away from what nurses do best.

Robots are helping to reduce the impact of the personnel shortages and the burnout nurses often feel.

While it might take some getting used to, robots will likely become integral in nursing, allowing human nurses to focus on patient care.

The Fundamentals Remain the Same

Although nursing is changing, it’s important to remember that the essence of the job remains the same.

People who excel in nursing are caring and compassionate, dedicated to helping people recover from illness and injury.

If you find helping people fulfilling, then a career in nursing might be the perfect choice for you!

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