Nurses Week Celebrates Those Who Create Healthier Tomorrows

Nursing is a profession that impacts every single person. Whatever gender, race or age, people come in contact with nurses at hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices or outpatient centers.  Nurses are front and center when a patient is diagnosed, treated, getting a prescription or undergoing anesthesia for surgery. Each year National Nurses Week is a time to recognize the contributions that nurses make to our health care system. From May 6 – May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday, this year’s theme “Nurses: Caring Today for a Healthier Tomorrow” celebrates the nursing profession and the nurses who make a big impact on peoples’ lives.

Nursing is the biggest segment of the health care profession.  Currently, there are 3.9 million nurses in the United States. The American Nurses Association predicts there will be more registered nurse jobs available through 2022 than any other profession in the US, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15 percent growth rate through 2026. There are several reasons why nurses will be in such demand in the future. Medicine today has a growing interest in preventive health care that can help people live healthier lives. As the population ages there is more demand for healthcare for baby boomers, and there are growing rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Outpatient care for medical procedures and surgery, chemotherapy and rehabilitation is also increasing. Nursing is the segment of the health care profession that meets these needs.

Nurses can enter their profession with a two-year associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. They also must pass the NCLEXRN national exam to get their license to practice. There is recognition today that the greater responsibilities that nurses assume demand that they have greater education.

Registered Nurses come into direct contact with patients and many of their responsibilities contribute to patients having “healthier tomorrows.” RNs perform physical exams, provide health education and counseling, administer medication and coordinate care in collaboration with other health professionals. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses have at least a Master’s Degree. APRNs diagnose and treat illnesses and manage chronic disease. APRN specialists include Nurse Practitioners who diagnose and treat minor illness and prescribe medication, and Certified Nurse Anesthetists who administer more than 65 percent of all anesthetics.

The idea that nurses should have a BSN has been proposed in state legislatures and has support from the American Colleges of Nursing.  The number of nurses pursuing a BSN has grown.  In 2008 35 percent of nurses had a bachelor’s degree; in 2013, 55 percent of nurses had earned a BSN. The Institute of Medicine and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation together have called for increasing the number of nurses in the US holding a BSN to be 80 percent by 2020. “Because individual and population health needs are changing, and our health care system is ever-evolving, we need nurses to know more and be better trained to provide care in a transformed system,” explains Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine.

There is evidence to show that higher education among nursing staffs results in better patient outcomes. A study by The National Center of Biotechnology Information showed that hospitals with a greater percentage of nurses with a BSN or higher “have lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates, especially when it comes to surgical patients.”

Edcor’s partner school Chamberlain University educates many of the nurses that care for people today. Its leaders say, “Nurses inspire, innovate and influence us every day. To have a positive impact on healthcare, we know it takes more than being a caring and competent caregiver. It also takes determination, dedication, resilience and grit. Simply put, nurses are strong. This Nurses Week we want to celebrate that strength and give each and every nurse a chance to express what makes them…#NurseStrong. Behind every strong nurse is a strong support system. We are honored to be preparing extraordinary nursing and healthcare professionals who are practice-ready, equipped to face the challenges of tomorrow, and motivated to create a culture of care that transforms the health of our communities.”