- Eighty-seven percent of registered nurses (RNs) agreed that non-physician healthcare professionals, including RNs and nurse practitioners, are playing an increasingly important role in patient management and care coordination, according to a University of Phoenix College of Health Professions survey.
Eighty-two percent believe that they will play an even larger role in the overall management of patient care in the next five years.
Additionally, 33 percent said they are more frequently performing tasks traditionally done by a physician.
Nurses are a strong and growing force within the healthcare industry. In 2016, there were nearly 3 million RNs working in the US, and employment of RNs is expected to rise 15 percent by 2026, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
"Our nurses play a pivotal role in getting patients back to health in an increasingly demanding environment," Dr. Lisa Radesi, Academic Dean for the School of Nursing at University of Phoenix, said in a statement.
"As the healthcare industry continues to evolve to support an aging population, advanced technologies and a multifaceted insurance system, we must recognize the demanding work our nurses do and prepare them to be successful in this complex environment."
When asked how they expect their roles to change within the next five years, 43 percent of nurses said they anticipate becoming more involved with information systems.
Thirty-six percent said they expect to take on an increased leadership role at their organization, and 87 percent believe their organizations should focus on preparing healthcare professionals with greater leadership skills.
These results reflect the growing expectations of nurses in an industry that is becoming increasingly digital and value-based.
"The ability to balance bedside care with technical and leadership skills is crucial for today's nurses," said Radesi.
These results are consistent with past research. A recent study, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that if nurses are to improve the health of their communities, nursing education and practice should change to enhance leadership capabilities and data fluency.
Nurses will need to be strong advocate leaders for their patients and have solid data management skills so that they can make data-driven decisions and translate research into practice.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study also found that there is a growing need for nurse informaticists across all healthcare sectors. Informatics professionals with a nursing background can combine their knowledge of clinical care and data analytics to enhance health IT and improve patient care.
In addition to taking on more leadership and technical responsibilities, RNs surveyed by the University of Phoenix anticipate becoming more involved with regulations (43 percent) and in the management of overall patient care planning (40 percent).
Although the profession is rapidly expanding to include new opportunities, RNs believe that the fundamental elements of their job will only grow in importance as the healthcare industry changes.
Thirty-six percent of RNs believe they will see an increased role in focusing on the well-being of patients, and 59 percent said they strongly agree that good people skills are just as important as technical skills when it comes to quality care delivery.
"The job expectations for nurses continue to grow, but the heart of the profession will always be in providing the best possible care for patients,” Radesi said.
In order for nurses to take on new roles and responsibilities while consistently delivering quality care, they will need the support of their organizations and universities.
"The field continues to evolve, requiring facilities and educational institutions to innovate to provide nurses with the information they need to help them succeed in the profession," Radesi concluded.
“Nurses can use these new skills to continue to learn and grow within their roles while healing and helping their patients.”