Continuing Education and the Future of Nursing Practice

Introduction

The health sector is continuously changing, and this presents new challenges to caregivers. Regulatory, educational bodies, and other stakeholders are exploring ways of equipping caregivers with competencies that will enable them to face the rising challenges to provide the best outcomes possible. Nurses, in particular, have to deal with increasing complexities in the healthcare field. Some states have made it mandatory for nurses to continue their education for relicensing. The use of education as a tool to combat the challenges in the health sector is based on the realization that the future of nursing needs to changes to adapt to the new challenges.

Part 1

Continuing Education

Challenges facing the nation in the health sector have changed over the years, and the change process is continuous (Gallagher, 2007). Subsequently, nurses have to keep up with the shifts in the healthcare sector to provide the best possible outcomes in their practice. For nurses to keep up with the changing face of healthcare provision, they need to consider the option of continuing education for professional development. Continuing education avails to nurses skills that they can use to provide the best possible outcomes in the current face of healthcare (Gallagher, 2007). A nurse who chooses to advance their degree and knowledge in nursing is in a good position to competently meet the new challenges emerging in healthcare provision and adapt better to the new environment than one who chooses not to advance their degree. A nurse who does not wish to continue their education and work in a state tat supports this misses out on keeping pace with evolving knowledge. 

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The nation’s healthcare needs have changed over time. Healthcare professionals have recognized the new challenges arising from social and demographic factors. For these new challenges to be adequately handled, it is important for nurses to advance their degrees and knowledge and in the process equip themselves with the ability to face these emerging challenges (Blais & Hayes, 2016). The manner in which nurse education was carried out in the 20th century is not enough to cater to the needs of the 21st century. There is a need for progression in the knowledge and abilities of nurses in light of the new challenges in nursing. The healthcare system was built to cater essentially to treating acute illnesses and injuries that were the main health challenges of the 20th century (Griscti & Jacono, 2006). However, the 21st century has witnessed the emergence of problems such as a larger population of the elderly, diversity on race and ethnicity, conditions related to lifestyle and chronic illnesses (Griscti & Jacono, 2006). It is, therefore, important for nurses to advance their degrees and knowledge to enable them to cater to the emergent needs of the population regarding healthcare.  

Given the changing face of healthcare provision, nurses need to have competencies in the emerging issues related to healthcare. Comprehensive knowledge is required for nurses to be competent in a broad range of topics such as health policy and health care financing, given the rising cost of healthcare. Nurses also need to be capable of handling matters related to community and public health. Leadership, improvement of quality and systems thinking are also core competencies that can enable nurses to cater to the challenges facing healthcare in the 21st century. Care in hospitals is increasing in complexity and nurses are expected to make more critical decisions related to the health of patients who tend to be sicker, and weaker. In addition, there is increased use of complicated, life-saving technology as well as information management systems that make it necessary for nurses to continue their education for greater competency.  

Part 2

The Future of Nursing Practice

Blais and Hayes observe that the changing face of healthcare needs has been met by a change in associated factors (2015). Changes in information technology, health systems, regulatory changes, medical, surgical and pharmacological advances all have a role to play in determining the future of nursing. In addition, Blais and Hayes assert that lessons from the past are valuable in assisting nurses to make decisions about the future. From their observations, Blais and Hayes provide several recommendations that are supported by the IOM and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report on the future of nursing. The essential components of the recommendations are focused on the expansion of education opportunities, increasing the number of qualified nurses, collaborative efforts between nurses and other healthcare professionals, evidence-based practice and develop infrastructure for the collection and analysis of interprofessional health care workforce data.

It is undeniable that the face of healthcare is changing, and new challenges are arising in the sector. It follows that stakeholders need to take measures to assist healthcare providers in producing the best possible outcomes in their activities. By projecting future trends in healthcare, stakeholders can plan effectively to combat new challenges and improve on existing care provision. The need for highly educated nurses prepared to provide care based on their practice is an important priority in the implementation of strategies for the future of nursing practice (Clavelle, 2012). In forging a path for the future, lessons from the past are fundamental in setting an agenda for the future (Blais & Hayes, 2015). With proper evaluation of the challenges and needs of the past, present and emerging nature, frameworks can be developed to create a new future of the practice. 

The complexity of healthcare today has led to the need for nurses to make more complex decisions than they did decades ago (Klopper & Hill, 2015). Such critical decisions were in the past made by doctors. However, in the present day, nurses have to be more highly trained, educated and able to think critically than they did years ago. Based on the present day situation, it is expected that challenges will persist and possibly get tougher. Subsequently, stakeholders have to implement strategies in nursing practice that empower nurses with competencies to handle existing and future challenges. Klopper and Hill are in agreement with both the Institute of Medicine report and Blais and Hayes assertion that education is one way of creating a new future for nursing practice. Education will empower nurses with the ability to take on more complex and critical roles. The needs of patients are changing based on lifestyles and globalization. The population is changing with a growing number of the elderly and dynamics of demographics. Subsequently, education is a vital tool in ensuring nurses are capable of handling the emerging challenges competently. 

Research is an essential component for the future of nursing (Chitty & Black, 2011). For effective evidence-based practice to be carried out, research is critical in providing information for use in the practice. Theory is an integral part of research (Chitty & Black, 2011). In the past, a lot of emphases has been placed on method at the expense of research in nursing. However, knowledge development in the discipline can only be efficiently carried out with research based on theories. Nurses have been using arguments used to address problems from other disciplines in healthcare provision. These theories do not perceive the human as a holistic entity and have no perspective of nursing (Chitty & Black, 2011). Theory development specific to nursing is a possible occurrence. Using a combination of education, skill and knowledge supported by sustained efforts can lead to the development of theories for nursing practice (Chitty & Black, 2011). Nurses in practice can develop theories that after peer-review, can be published and their effectiveness in nursing practice tested. In this way, a body of knowledge for nursing practice will be built.   Nurses in practice settings have valuable insights that can contribute substantially to the knowledge base for nursing. Use of nursing theory and its transfer into practice is important for the future of nursing practice. Emerging challenges can be assessed, and solutions arrived at from development of theories and testing them in nursing settings.

Conclusion 

The future of nursing is full of possibilities. Transformation is a relevant aspect in the discussion on the future of nursing. Nursing has been marked for change in response to the evolving needs of healthcare in the present day and the future. Society today has complex needs that require a higher level of skill and experience in handling. Transformation in an organization begins with the individual and spreads eventually to cover the whole group. To face the challenges of the present and future, nurses need to take care of themselves first before they are in a position to cater to the needs of others. One way of catering to themselves is gaining knowledge. Knowledge begins with knowledge and understanding of the self, which will, in turn, provide a basis for understanding of the nursing profession. Maximizing their nursing education is a form of self-care. Given the transformational times, nurses have the opportunity to place themselves at the top as leaders in primary care and other services in health for which they are adequately prepared.

References

Blais, K., & Hayes, J. S. (2015). Professional nursing practice: Concepts and 

perspectives(7th ed.). Boston, MA: Addison Wesley Publishing Company.

Clavelle, J. T. (2012). Implementing Institute of Medicine future of nursing recommendations: A 

model for transforming nurse practitioner privileges.Journal of Nursing Administration42(9), 404-407.

Chitty, K. K., & Black, B. P. (2011). Professional nursing: Concepts & challenges. Maryland 

Heights, MO: Saunders/Elsevier.

Griscti, O., & Jacono, J. (2006). Effectiveness of continuing education programmes in nursing: 

literature review. Journal of advanced nursing55(4), 449-456.

Gallagher, L. (2007). Continuing education in nursing: a concept analysis.Nurse education 

today27(5), 466-473.

Institute of Medicine (US). Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the 

Future of Nursing. (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Klopper, H. C., & Hill, M. (2015). Global advisory panel on the future of nursing (GAPFON) 

and global health. Journal of nursing scholarship47(1), 3-4.

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