Modernization has led to changes in many industries, and one of them is healthcare. Apart from technological changes, we can now observe changes in the role of different professions in every sector evolving due to modern demand and needs. Among these professions is the highly notable profession of nursing in the healthcare industry. There have been some drastic transformations in the field, such as high job demand, rising salaries, technological incorporation in medical practices, etc. We have seen nurses play more critical roles in a hospital, clinical, and other settings. However, apart from these, we can now observe some transformations that revolutionize nursing practice and increase its popularity and scope.
The days when nurses were merely considered assistants for the hospital staff and doctors are long gone. Now, nurses have more responsibilities and support physicians and doctors by standing in the first medical defense line. This change came because of the transformations in education, policies, rights, and work structures in the industry. Therefore, this article aims to observe the different changing roles of nurses in the healthcare industry.
1. Taking On Leadership Roles
Undoubtedly, the majority of the healthcare workforce consists of nurses. Today, given the heightened need and expanding roles of nurses, honing leadership skills within this profession has become mandatory. Nurses are no longer restricted to mid-level positions performing routine tasks; now, their responsibilities are stretching toward critical decision-making. Therefore, there has been a sharp rise in the demand for nurse leaders in almost every healthcare organization worldwide.
Nurses are now striving for higher positions, and a terminal degree in nursing helps them rise to leadership roles. With such academic excellence, nurses can quickly climb the ladder to higher positions in the hierarchy. Most importantly, the leadership roles allow nurses to have a voice and say in the healthcare administration. They can devise treatment plans and healthcare policies and help mitigate any healthcare crisis or disparities.
2. Participating In Developing Systems To Mitigate Medical Errors
Nurses are now considered the gatekeepers of the administrative process of preventing medical errors in the healthcare industry. It is the responsibility of hospitals and administration to take whatever steps necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of their patients. They hold the responsibility to reduce errors, malpractice, and negligence in this whole process. Some protocols in this regard include the rights of medication administration, medication reviews, double checks, patient education, practice environmental management, and so forth. Nurses play an essential role in all of these aspects to mitigate medical errors in the clinical and hospital setting. This critical responsibility gives nurses more authority in their work setting and the responsibility to keep a check for the sake of patient safety.
3. Influencing Medical Research And Innovation
Research is an integral part of healthcare. The healthcare industry needs research to upgrade standard treatment methods and to develop cures and vaccines. This research work is highly crucial for diagnosis, treatment, disease prevention, and curing chronic illnesses. Nurses play an essential role in the research process. They stand at the front of treatment development for the patients and provide vital input and findings to improve outcomes. Typically, the day-to-day responsibilities of a research nurse include:
- Screening potential patients for diagnosis and determining any deviations
- Educating the patient about their condition, treatment plan, and experimental treatments so they can make decisions accordingly
- Ensuring that they get the patient’s full consent before they undergo experimental treatment or study
- Helping the principal investigator through the coordination of research studies and management of every aspect
- Supporting the patient during their time as a participant in the treatment or study
Hence, it is no doubt that research nurses play a vital role in medical research and development. Their contribution allows the researchers and investigators to perform their tasks seamlessly. Nurses also play a commendable role in ensuring the patient’s well-being during this process by acting as their caretaker.
4. Accelerating The Use Of Telehealth
The way patients receive medical guidance and consultation in the present times has changed a lot. Before, every patient had no choice but to visit the clinic for their check-up. But now, remote consultation is allowing patients to seek consultation through calls from the safety and comfort of their homes.
While telehealth technology is not new anymore, it was still not as widespread before the pandemic as it is now. As a result, the telehealth requirements are giving rise to new roles and responsibilities for healthcare professionals. Now, nurses can monitor their patients, counsel them, or interact remotely through audio or video calls. Now patients have access to contact healthcare professionals and nurses without leaving their homes in case of non-emergency medical needs. For example, a nurse can view the patient’s wound condition through video and guide them on steps to dress the wound and deal with the pain.
The primary aim of telehealth is to reduce the number of patients in the emergency department. Due to the pandemic, the hospital emergency rooms were flooding with infected patients. This situation was dangerous because there was a risk of exposure to the non-infected as well. Hence, the trend of telehealth arose, and it is playing a vital role in limiting the number of trips people make to the hospital.
5. Improving Access To Healthcare Services
As the population is rapidly growing and health issues in public are arising, the healthcare industry is actively taking steps to strengthen primary care services. One of these steps involves giving nurses the responsibility to address medical issues that do not need the particular expertise of a doctor. Now, a nurse can conduct physical examinations of the patient, determine medical history, make a diagnosis under supervision, recommend treatment or medications, administer medication, etc. Increasing the responsibilities of nurses and giving them new roles in the industry helps in lessening the burden on specialists.
Healthcare facilities don’t have to rely solely on doctors to provide optimal care to patients. Now, these roles are stretching towards nurses allowing them to enhance access to healthcare for the community. With the growing necessity of new skills for the nursing profession, we can expect nurses to improve healthcare access further.
It is not far-fetched to say that nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. They are the frontline workers in primary care and play a huge role in patient care services. The pandemic serves as an excellent example of how nurses play a significant role in keeping this industry intact. However, now nurses’ roles are changing, and they have to take on more responsibilities. The new roles and responsibilities allow the nurses to practice better and contribute to community well-being on a large scale.