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specialized nurse defenseIn recent years, the nursing field has undergone unprecedented growth that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. This growth is occurring alongside healthcare needs which are becoming increasingly complex. The result is a widening array of specializations in which nurses are able to practice. Specializations may involve either a narrowing and deepening of some focus or a combination of aspects of different areas with a simultaneous narrowing of focus. Common areas of focus include psychiatry, obstetrics, and geriatric nursing, among a variety of other options. What are the benefits these specializations are bringing to the nursing profession?

In nursing, there has become a greater demand at higher levels of the practice than lower ones, and those who specialize find that they are in higher demand. This enables those nurses to command higher salaries. Specialization also enables a nurse to become an expert in the area in which he/she is providing care, which can increase opportunities for career advancement. With more research and technological advancements emerging, specialization in the nursing career path has led to numerous opportunities.

Specialization, along with subsequent certification, gives patients and medical institutions a sense of assurance that a nurse is highly competent and skilled in a specific area of care. What’s more, it provides nurses with the opportunity to pursue work that is personally meaningful and fulfilling by specializing in an area of nursing care that is of the most interest to you.

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travel nursingA rising trend in the nursing world is taking on travel nurse opportunities. Travel nurses are RNs that work for independent staffing agencies, taking on assignments in different care areas on a temporary basis in order to fill short-term employment gaps. Due to nationwide nursing shortages, health care facilities turned to travel nurses to fill the void. Through the use of travel nurses, nurse-patient ratios have balanced out, which leads ultimately to patient safety and lower patient mortality.

The position of travel nurse is ideal for those who enjoy adapting to different work environments and traveling to new places. Travel nurses also experience higher-than-average pay, adding another facet to the profession that many find attractive.

Not only has the nursing field expanded to suit a travel-friendly lifestyle, but nursing has expanded from the traditional hospital setting to more outpatient settings, enabling nurses to work closer with communities. Ambulatory nurses can work in such areas as home health, military health clinics, community health centers, and telehealth. This shift toward ambulatory care nursing resulted from a need to control health care costs and the development of new health care technologies allowing for quality treatment outside of the typical hospital setting.

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Nursing EducationAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 1.1 million new registered nurses will be needed by 2022. These new nurses will replace the expected 500,000 retirees and fill the 100,000 new RN positions created each year. With this need for new nurses comes a need for nurse educators to provide proper training. Nurse educators play the crucial role of ensuring that new nurses are prepared to meet the growing demand for their services.

There has been a shift in thinking for hospitals, with more seeking nurses who have acquired a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN) under the belief that such training leads to better expected patient outcomes. Nurse educators are in an important position within this hospital system. They are trained nurses who can deliver the most crucial information to new nurses, given their intimate understanding of the challenges of the profession and how to best convey critical knowledge that is essential to a hospital’s success. As for nurses, this increasing need in the education field has a certain additional incentive. There is a reported $20,000-$30,000 pay gap between nursing faculty and practicing nurses, inducing more nurses to turn to teaching.

Another area offering career and education growth for nurses is through the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. Due to a physician shortage, there is an increased need for direct providers, and nurses are entering such programs in order to fill the gap. The doctoral programs prepare nurses for careers in health administration, education, clinical research and advanced practice, allowing nurses to become experts in their profession and assume a variety of leadership roles.

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Wheaton licensure defense attorneyThe nursing profession has never lacked its challenges, but two major issues have increasingly affected the quality of work environments for nurses: short-staffing and extended working hours. What negative effects are resulting from these problems?

Short-staffing of hospitals has become a top concern for nurses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that, by 2022, there will be a need for more than 1 million registered nurses due to occupational growth and replacement hiring. What is viewed as the most dangerous concern for short-staffing? A lack of sufficient patient care. In hospitals suffering nurse shortages, nurses often do not have time to provide the necessary care for patients or their families, as they are rushed to assist a patient and then move on to the next one. Such feelings can lead to moral distress, in which nurses become physically and emotionally drained when they repeatedly cannot provide the care they feel is necessary.

In order to address problems that arose due to short-staffed hospitals, some nurses are required to work longer shifts involving extended hours and overtime. This solution creates an inherent problem: nurse fatigue. With an increase in fatigue affecting nurses, there is a corollary risk of increased medical errors involving patients, as fatigue can lead to mistakes or oversights related to patient care. The typical number of hours a nurse should work in a week is at most 40 hours, working no more than 12 hours in a day. Nurses who work beyond that start to experience cognitive decline, resulting in a higher probability of mistakes being made that can adversely affect patients.

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