The Evolution Of The Nursing Profession

Nurses account for the largest group of healthcare professionals. Providing vital healthcare services in a range of settings, the nursing profession is one of the most valuable. Over the years, the role of nurses has changed and evolved to cope with new challenges, most notably, an aging population. The infographic below charts the dynamic growth of the profession, highlighting the main factors driving diversification and modernization. In April 2016, there were around 4 million registered nurses in the US. Of the 3.2 million registered nurses, 36.8% had a Bachelor’s degree, while 96.2% of the 222,000 nurse practitioners had graduate degrees. The number of nurses has risen in line with demand for nursing skills. By 2024, it is estimated that there will be over 400,000 new nursing jobs available. There are three main contributing factors when it comes to the dynamic growth of the profession. The first is the aging population. People are living longer, and by 2030, over 65s are expected to make up almost 20% of the population. The second factor is the age of nurses. The average age of registered nurses is creeping up, and this could lead to a shortage in the future if a large number of nurses retire at the same time. The final consideration is the demand for nurses with specialty skills and the introduction of jobs, including nurse administrators and nurse educators. With the landscape changing and new challenges to face, nurse leaders have a crucial role to play. Leaders can help to tackle issues linked to the aging population of nurses and patients and speciality skills shortages by employing measures such as promoting healthy lifestyles, facilitating geriatric nursing tuition and guidance, encouraging the use of technology to improve efficiency and encouraging student nurses to consider specialty roles.
Infographic Designed By Norwich University


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