Working as a registered nurse (RN) is arguably one of the most interesting career paths you can opt for. However, are you truly prepared to take on this profession and the challenges it poses? From long working hours to continuous self-development, life as an RN is never an easy one. Of course, with a bit of guidance, walking this path might just become somewhat less difficult.
If you’re planning to become an RN in 2024, here are a few things you should know.
Embracing Technological Advancements
As told by the HealthTech Magazine, the use of technology in nursing practice has now become more prevalent than ever before. Of course, the basics of patient care remain the same. However, the tools and techniques that nurses use have evolved and become more technologically advanced. Thus, by 2024, RNs will be expected to be more proficient in using technologies like electronic health records (EHRs), advanced symptom testing, etc.
Furthermore, nurses may find themselves providing care remotely, conducting virtual assessments, and guiding patients through self-care protocols. For that, they need to be well-versed in delivering remote healthcare services.
At present, you’ll often come across nursing programs that will show you the fastest way to become an RN. Any nursing school offering such a fast-track nursing degree will also highlight the importance of embracing technological advancements in this field.
According to Elmhurst University, any good modern-day nursing education program will insist its students embrace nursing and healthcare tech in general. Therefore, the RNs that will enter the nursing career field in 2024 will already have some knowledge regarding the tech used in this field. The rest of the knowledge will come from clinical placements and on-the-job experience.
Navigating Complex Healthcare Systems
The healthcare system in the United States, and indeed in many parts of the world, is becoming increasingly complex. Nurses must be well-versed in navigating this intricate web of regulations, insurance policies, and healthcare providers. Understanding the healthcare system’s intricacies is vital for advocating for patients and ensuring they receive the best possible care.
Healthcare policies and regulations are in a constant state of flux. In 2024, nurses should be aware of the latest changes that affect patient care and their own practice. This includes knowledge of insurance plans, reimbursement processes, and emerging healthcare models such as value-based care and accountable care organizations.
Interprofessional collaboration has also become a cornerstone of modern healthcare. Hence, nurses must learn to collaborate effectively with physicians, pharmacists, social workers, and other healthcare professionals to provide holistic care. Building strong communication and teamwork skills is essential for delivering optimal patient outcomes.
Addressing the Nursing Shortage
According to McKinsey & Company, the US has been facing a shortage of RNs since as early as 2021. This shortage has troubled the country well into 2022 and has also impacted its healthcare sector in 2023. Experts are now concerned that the nursing shortage might continue into 2024.
Based on all this, as an RN in 2024, you might find yourself with an increased workload thanks to the nursing shortage crisis. Therefore, you need to prepare yourself to tackle this nursing shortage smartly without overwhelming yourself.
To do so, enter the profession only after you’ve fully learned to manage stress and burnout. Don’t hesitate to share some of your responsibilities with other RNs or healthcare professionals whenever possible. Most importantly, make the most of all the healthcare tech available at your disposal.
Remote patient monitoring systems will be of special importance to you in such a situation. According to the American Hospital Association, such systems are already being utilized at healthcare facilities to a certain extent. As we enter 2024, expect to use this type of tech more often, especially if the nursing shortage crisis continues.
Advocating for Patient-Centered Care
Healthcare organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of tailoring care to meet individual patient needs and preferences. As an RN, you play a vital role in advocating for and delivering patient-centered care.
This approach goes beyond treating medical conditions. It involves considering the patient’s values, goals, and social determinants of health. Nurses must engage in open and empathetic communication with patients, actively involving them in decision-making and care planning.
In addition to providing compassionate care, nurses should also be champions for patient safety. Medication errors, hospital-acquired infections, and other preventable adverse events remain significant concerns in healthcare. RNs must be diligent in following safety protocols, reporting incidents, and advocating for improvements in the healthcare system to enhance patient safety.
Pursuing Lifelong Learning and Professional Development
The field of healthcare is dynamic and ever-evolving. To thrive as an RN in 2024 and beyond, it’s essential to embrace a mindset of lifelong learning and continuous professional development.
Continuing education opportunities, such as workshops, seminars, and online courses, can help you stay current with the latest clinical practices, guidelines, and research findings. You can also pursue advanced degrees, such as Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), to specialize in specific areas.
Moreover, professional organizations, such as the American Nurses Association (ANA) and specialty nursing associations, offer resources and networking opportunities for nurses. Becoming an active member of these organizations can provide valuable support and help you stay connected with your nursing community.
As stated at the start, working as an RN, although interesting, can also be very challenging. Yet, if you can stick to the tips above, this career path need not be too difficult for you. Of course, the path in question won’t be easy, but it won’t be so difficult that you’d want to give up on it.