We’re in the most unbelievable of times with COVID-19, where the healthcare world has been turned upside down. COVID-19 is making extraordinary demands on nurses and other healthcare workers, as they work tirelessly and at great personal risk to deal with this crisis. Their resilience shows as they toil with limited or nonexistent resources, pulling extended shifts and putting their self-care on the back burner.
This crisis will forever change care models and when it’s over, it’s inevitable that the nursing profession (and other healthcare fields) may face attrition due to burnout. Will that impact more experienced nurses or newer nurses in greater numbers?
Our recent independent health survey, Next-Generation Nurses: Empowered + Engaged
, was taken prior to this health crisis, but the results shed light on how the next generation of nurses see their roles in the rapidly changing healthcare system. The results are part of a broader survey that Wolters Kluwer conducted to understand how various industry stakeholders and consumers view the state of healthcare in America.
For this report in the series, we examined the responses of nurses with less than 10 years of practice experience (called next-generation nurses) who made up 35% of the total survey base. We wanted to explore just how equipped they feel to render the highest quality care and where they’d like to see things go, given the US healthcare picture.
How They See the Healthcare World: Proponents of Value
We know that nursing is evolving based on the changing healthcare paradigm from disease to wellness and the shift to care based on evidence that improves outcomes. This shift to a value-based care model has been shown to improve practice, enhance patient outcomes and optimize healthcare reimbursements—and that’s a trend that next-generation nurses embrace. These nurses believe these care models are yielding results, with 71% reporting
they are having a positive impact on treatment.
With respect to having the tools and resources they need to stay current on care, 78% of respondents say they do. They add that most healthcare facilities are doing a good job in identifying areas where they can reduce practice variations. Even so, they’re pragmatic: they recognize the practice gaps because 82% acknowledge that care hand-offs between various healthcare professionals are not easy. They see a lot of variability in care: 73% notice it in the training of new nurses and 77% in the degree of collaboration across healthcare departments.
But while these nurses may carry the torch for more consistent and effective healthcare delivery, nurses who are early in their careers have a blind spot when it comes to other areas where variability exists. They appear to be less aware of transparency challenges and the variation in the cost of medications and treatment than more experienced nurses.
They also have less appreciation of the power of evidence-based practice in delivering the best care possible. This presents an opportunity for hospitals to understand the generational gaps that exist among their nursing staff. They can then develop plans that recognize each group’s unique needs, understanding, and the actions required. This positions next-generation nurses to be ready to take the reins when more experienced nurses retire.
Championing Patients, Advocating Change
Next-generation nurses not only see healthcare in a positive light; they also see patients differently than previous generations of nurses have. Most envision patients as in charge of their own health—taking a hands-on role in their own health. And, in the interest of providing more-robust and multi-dimensional care, they support the idea of being able to access data that enables them to recognize and respond to patients’ social and/or lifestyle needs, as well as to have at their disposal certain tools that provide the most up-to-date evidence-based practice information.
Although they remain positive, next-generation nurses are advocates for change. Care alignment is one of the major areas in which they see significant room for improvement. An overwhelming majority (86%) deem alignment so that the entire team is practicing based on the same information as important to improving care. Virtually all of them (89%) say they want to see more consistency, which would result in better patient outcomes.
Evolving Role of Technology
When care is
better, this group says it can be attributed to technology. 87% say technology that enables clinical decision support at the point of care is making it easier for healthcare professionals to make the best care decisions. Most also indicate a level of optimism when it comes to artificial intelligence and emerging technologies that will enhance care. These nurses are more comfortable navigating the electronic health records than their more experienced colleagues and this may speak to their overall comfort with technology. They are, after all, digital natives, having grown up in a time of widespread use of the Internet, social media and mobile communication.
Taking Nursing into the Future
These nurses join the half million nurses expected to join the workforce from 2012 to 2022, shaping the future of healthcare as demand gets greater.1
Their vision of nursing focuses on empowered patients, being informed and well-educated healthcare workers, and utilized technology. They understand their role in the transforming healthcare landscape, even as they experience dramatic changes. They know what needs to be done. And the good news is, they’re ready.
Want to learn more about the findings? Download the survey report
Reference: 1. Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement. Getting to affordability, November 8, 2018. Available at: http://www.nrhi.org/uploads/rwj_tcoc_phaseiii_benchmark_2018_r7.pdf. Accessed February 17, 2020.