At the end of each year, there are changes predicted for the following year in terms of the health care industry. Jennifer Flynn, CPHRM, Vice President of the Nurses Service Organization (NSO), gave us information on the top three trends that will shape the nursing profession in 2022.

You’ve identified 3 trends you believe will shape the nursing profession in 2022: Staff Shortages, Travel Nursing, and Telehealth. Why are these three the most prevalent?

We’ve seen constant change in the health care industry. And, never more so then in the last two years. These trends in nursing have great benefits for the facility and the patient, but may increase liability risks for nurses.

While telehealth has its benefits: patients have increased access to care, and they manage some chronic conditions better, especially where remote patient monitoring replaces many routine in-person visits. Telehealth saves patients’ time of travel and waiting in the office which, some studies have shown increases their overall satisfaction.

For nurses, telehealth does provide more flexibility at a time that is most convenient for patient and nurse. However, there are some parts of telehealth that can increase a nurse’s liability risks, such as, providing care to those patients where visits must be in-person. Clinically speaking, you can’t perform all nursing functions virtually, but nurses need to know which patients must be seen in-person versus virtually. Nurses needs to be aware of which patients have barriers to virtual care. While broadband connections are improving, not every patient has access to a good connection. Lastly, licensing laws and reimbursement may limit a nurse’s ability to practice across state lines or be reimbursed for telehealth services.  It is the responsibility of the nurse to know the rules of telehealth in their state.

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For some, travel nursing is a dream job enabling you to see the country while still enjoying the rewards of providing treatment and care to patients. For others, the endless adjustments of unfamiliar environments may make it not the right career choice. As with any job, there are pros and cons. Some liability risks nurses face with travel nursing are: the constant learning of policies and procedures at each new facility and assignment–though you may be contracted with a particular unit during your travel nurse experience, you may find yourself in even further unfamiliar territory when you have to float to another unit.

Many facilities will send the travel nurse first to float to an understaffed unit, again, learning the policies and procedures of that floated assignment. Lastly, you will need to check your licensing laws–travel nurses may have to have multiple licenses in order to practice. And, each state where you work will require you to hold an active and unrestricted license for that state.

Safe nurse staffing is essential to both the nursing profession and to the overall delivery of treatment and care. Adequate staffing levels ensure better care for patients and reduces nurse fatigue, prevents burnout, and increases patient satisfaction. However, inadequate nurse staffing can endanger patients. Research shows that shortages and inadequate staffing are linked to higher rates of infections, patient falls, medication errors, and even mortality. This is because nurses have too much work to juggle and cannot spend enough time on each patient, resulting in missed care. While staffing was a topic of discussion well before the pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the nursing shortage in the United States. Nursing leaders say nurses are tired and frustrated from being asked to work overtime. Some are even considering leaving the profession. Safe nurse staffing affects the ability of all nurses to deliver safe, quality care in all practice settings.

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