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How key nursing trends for 2022 are evolving

In December 2021, Nursing News from predicted key nursing trends for 2022. Let’s check in on a few of the key points and see how they are holding up mid 2022.

1) COVID-19 takes a toll. The country continues to reel under the pressure of the pandemic. Nurses are exhausted and burning out quickly. It’s now estimated that a third of nurses will leave the profession this year. At the time of this article travel nursing was on an exponential growth path, but when COVID funding was not renewed by Congress, testing slowed, and health care sources had to begin billing insurances and taking losses, many institutions have turned to other options such as offering bonuses and and incentives to take extra shifts to their own staff and it has resulted in a drastic cut in the use of travel nurses in major markets. Vaccine boosters have helped reduce hospitalizations and deaths, but COVID has not disappeared. Vaccines for children under 5 will likely help reduce the spread among day car, pre-school and elementary school age children in the Fall.

2) Focus on behavioral health. The demand for mental health care continues to grow. The long-term effects on children is unknown, and adults continue to suffer. The entire economy continues to struggle with people not wanting to return to the workforce especially in lower paying service jobs. The whole health care field is also affected with a shortage of nurses aide, and clerical help. This increases the burden on nurses to manage logistics for their patients. Self care continues to be a huge need for nurses as well as the entire population.

3) More nurses traveling. There was a huge surge in travel nursing early on in 2022, but in many major markets there seems to be a decreased need especially as the expected COVID surge didn’t emerge. Despite a reluctance to vaccinate by a faction of the population, those who have vaccinated and boosted have been able to avoid or have minimal effects from COVID. We;ll look to see what happens in the Fall.

4) Nursing shortage. There is no doubt that the pandemic has had and continues to have a negative effect on the nursing profession. Baby Boomers who delayed retirement have begun to retire in large numbers coupled with those who have burned out for exhaustion with the pandemic. The nursing shortage has existed for years prior to the pandemic and the risk of losing a major portion of nurses due to retirement has loomed since the economic downturn in the mid 2000’s. Fighting the nursing shortage will continue to be an uphill battle due to the shortage of nurse educators. However, the pandemic did promote new ideas with simulation labs and other remote learning options in order to graduate new nurses and not lose them to other fields of study during the height of the pandemic.

5) Public health and emergency preparedness. As the US got caught with it’s pants down because government leadership chose to ignore pandemic warnings and refused to implement any plan to deal with the pandemic for months, nurses have seen the impact and results and a renewed interest in preparation and pro-active measures has grown. Public health education is growing as a common college minor as well as a focus for master’s and doctoral degrees for nurses.

Other key points included nurse entrepreneurship, technology growth, health equity and inter professional partnerships. Roles for nurses have been expanding over the past 20 years and it’s no secret that nurses are seeking side hustles and other options beyond the bedside. Entrepreneurship continues to grow and we’ll see many new avenues for nurses in the future. Technology continues to grow and meet the needs of a growing and aging population. Nurse involvement is finally being seen as a positive point. This is also seen as the general public has taken a interest and learned more about how nurses impact the entire healthcare community. Inter professional partnerships will continue to grow and evolve and we will see more nurses at the table making significant decisions. Health equity issues continue to be a major challenge for the health care community. Recent legislation and Supreme Court decisions continue to put women and minorities in a place of inequity. Educating the public and watching the midterm elections is going to set the course for further needs and action.