In the year 2020, the pandemic placed nurses on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 and caused changes in how they provide care. During that year, nurses adapted to the increased adoption of telehealth and virtual patient monitoring and constantly evolving staffing needs.
These factors — are sure to affect nursing in the years to come and increase the demand for nurses in the healthcare sector in the year 2021.
There is no doubt that 2020 was a challenging year for many people nationwide, both financially and health-wise. While many businesses shut down or experienced a downturn in sales and customer retention, other businesses in specific industries experienced a tremendous boom in a flurry of customer activity. The healthcare industry is one that experienced a lot of activity during the 2020 pandemic. While the heavy traffic of patients in emergency rooms caused a lot of panic for healthcare providers, it also posed another difficult problem: The shortage of nurses to assist doctors. According to a research study carried out and published by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce on February 25th, 2020, the economy would have created 1.6 million job openings for nurses through 2020. Yet, despite these job openings, there would still not be enough nurses to fill those openings. The study further projected that the nursing workforce would be facing a shortfall of roughly 200,000 nursing professionals nationwide by the end of 2020.
The continued demand for nurses in the workforce is more apparent now than ever for various reasons, and the pandemic only brought the glaring need to the limelight. As the year unfolds, nurses will continue to play an indispensable role in addressing the health and social inequities and determinants among the most vulnerable populations as the nursing workforce becomes more diverse and inclusive.
As the most extensive segment of the healthcare workforce — with over 4 million nurses active in the U.S. — nurses tend to face the communities they serve. As America becomes a more diverse society, the nursing profession will also become a more diverse and inclusive profession that welcomes nurses of all backgrounds and ethnicities.
Most healthcare executives predict that as the next five years unravel, the nursing profession's value will only become more apparent and essential. With the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, nurses will only continue to be in high demand as far as healthcare is concerned.
In the year 2020, nurses led the front line during the pandemic, and throughout history, they have played an indispensable role to doctors and patients alike. In the next five years, job creators must be flexible and creative in establishing new care models, specifically around roles that support nursing, such as nurse assistant and tech roles. Creating new roles with clear definitions that are attractive and meaningful for nursing support will also help establish a consistent, high-quality nursing model. This consistency and IT capabilities that enhance workflow will better allow nurses to work at the top of their scope and encourage the younger generation of healthcare professionals to have confidence in pursuing a nursing career.