Obamacare, scheduled to kick in full force in 2014, is expected to usher in major healthcare reforms. Reimbursement methods will change. Hospitals will continue to cut costs and reduce staff. Nurses will no longer work solo, but in teams. If you’re pursuing a career in healthcare, hold on, it’s going to get bumpy.
Cuts to Medicare, a freeze on Medicaid expansion in some states, and mounting hospital debts will put the crimp on hiring and promotions. New technologies in medicine, devices and reporting (think electronic health records) will continue to alter the medical career landscape. What does this mean for today’s nurses? According to the American Hospital Association, healthcare workers will simply have to do more.
Moving into ancillary healthcare venues
As a working nurse who expects to keep on working, you’ll have to adapt to the coming changes. That means making your talents and skills more available to venues outside of the traditional hospital setting—including schools and retail clinics like those at Walmart operated by CoxHealth. Nurses can also expect to take their careers into home healthcare as baby boomers age. This may include occupational and physical therapy, speech therapy, or skilled nursing. Home care nurses may help seniors with their daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Or they may help with cooking, cleaning, and other housekeeping chores. More importantly, nurses will be assigned to monitor an elderly person’s daily dose of prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Healthcare Teams Emerging
Team-based healthcare will change the tasks, responsibilities and required skillsets of nurses as we move into the second half of this decade. PAs (physician assistants) and other quasi-medical “technicians” will emerge as doctors become overloaded with casework. Employers will look to these individuals to form teams that provide the healthcare needed at a reduced cost to both patients and providers. As the decade closes out, massive RN retirements will leave a huge gap in healthcare at the critical “patient contact” level.
The Growth Fields
The big growth areas will be in primary care, behavioral and public health, and long-term care. A recent Primary Care Access report underscored the urgent need for more primary car healthcare personnel—physicians, PAs, nurse and support workers. It stated that nearly 57 million people in the U.S.—or one in five Americans—lack adequate access to primary healthcare due to a shortage of providers in their communities. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), 16,000 primary care practitioners are needed just to meet the need that exists today. National expenditures on mental health and substance abuse treatment are expected to reach $239 billion in 2014, nearly double what it was in 2003. The demand for behavioral health services can be attributed to more accurate diagnosis of mental health conditions and the public’s acceptance of treatment as non-stigmatizing.
Want to advance your healthcare career? Changes are coming. Knowing which fields are growing can help you steer your career in the right direction.
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