According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world will need approximately 1 million more nurses by 2020 to keep up with the rising demand for registered nurses. Beyond 2020, the problem is expected to become exponentially worse as the majority of ageing baby boomers continue to retire. In essence, the concern is that there aren’t enough nursing students to replace the number of nurses who will be retiring or moving on to other fields within the next 5-10 years.
The nursing shortage can only be solved by addressing the social, educational, and medical challenges that have historically limited nursing as a profession. Technology can help solve all of these problems through software, social media, and schooling programs that will educate and guide the next generation of nurses. With that said, here are seven technological solutions that will help solve the nursing shortage:
1. Online Nursing Programs
Studying to become a nurse at a university can be quite a commitment, especially if you already have a job or you’re not even sure about becoming a nurse in the long-term. Many people like the idea of earning a nursing degree as a backup occupation in case their main career path doesn’t work out as planned. Those potential, on-the-fence, would-be nurses don’t really want to revolve their entire schedule and lifestyle around a college curriculum. Online nursing programs like the CCNE-accredited program from Spring Arbor University Online give you the ability to study and take tests in your own time, so earning a nursing degree in your spare time becomes feasible.
2. Educational Apps for Medical Students
Enhancing the learning process and making nursing a more inviting field of study are other challenges that must be confronted to alleviate the coming nursing shortage. Many students are looking for the easiest possible way to earn a decent salary. Nursing can seem complicated at first glance, especially when you start going through all of the medical books and literature you get from a conventional university. Advanced educational apps can be used in conjunction with online nursing programs to digitalize and simplify nursing education.
3. Healthcare Record Systems
Technology will also make nursing an easier job by providing tools for record keeping, note taking, and nurse-doctor communication. Efficient and convenient record keeping will make the clerical part of nursing much easier and may make nursing a more desirable and straightforward profession. Furthermore, entirely new positions will emerge out of the need to specialize in certain software systems related to electronic health record (EHR) keeping. Informatics will play a major role in removing some of the complexity that creates a barrier between nursing and a large portion of prospective students.
4. Nurse Allocation & Scheduling
Much of the nursing shortage will be regional or position-specific. In other words, while the global nursing shortage is expected to reach a deficit of 1 million nurses by 2020, that crisis is not apparent everywhere. There will be cities and states that have less of a shortage, and in some areas, there may be no sign of a shortage at all. Logistics and scheduling software will help hospitals and clinics employ and allocate nursing staff more efficiently, so nurses can be sent to the areas where they’re needed most.
5. Promoting the Option of Nursing as a Career Path
The main problem that has led to the nursing shortage is the widespread conception that nurses are supposed to be females. This is a relatively old and outdated stereotype, but its effects are still seen in the ratio of men to women working in the field of nursing. In the simplest terms possible: more kids need to think that nursing is cool. The problem is, how do you change such an engrained concept in society without some sort of mass propaganda campaign? Well, in this case there’s a legitimate need to employ positive propaganda to reshape the way young people think about nursing in general. Of course, technology can help to achieve this goal through social media.
6. Global Hiring & Job Search Capabilities
To solve the nursing shortage, hospitals and other healthcare facilities will need to start employing nurses that come from outside of their local communities. Likewise, depending on what kind of specialty a nurse has, they may have to relocate to an area where their services are needed. Technology will give prospective nurses the ability to connect with potential employers around the world, removing the geographical boundaries that previously hindered hiring and job search capabilities in the past. Job search sites and apps are expected to help narrow the gap in the fight against professional nursing vacancies. With the ability to hire nurses from anywhere in the world, hospitals will find it easier to replace staff and keep all positions filled.
7. Travel Nurses Logistics & Training
Developing countries are also in need of nurses, which opens up the option of becoming a travel nurse. Travel nursing agencies deal directly with clinics or hospitals to provide on-demand nursing services to areas that are in need. Even in the U.S. there are plenty of states that have been badly affected by the nursing shortage, so you could be a travel nurse without ever leaving the country. GeriatricNursing.org has even put together a list of the top 10 states with the worst nursing shortages, so you can get an idea of which states you might be traveling to as a travel nurse.
Increasing the Diversity of Nurses
One of the main reasons as to why there’s a shortage of nurses in the U.S. is because an overwhelming majority of nurses are white females. To meet the quota of new nurses that need to be employed within the next five years, the industry will also need to find a way to start appealing to and hiring more diverse employees in terms of both gender and race. Of course, increasing the diversity of nurses will equate to hiring more nurses in general, so it will help to alleviate some of the shortage.
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