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Nurses – In Demand and Options Abound
Story Number is : 050817110
Provided By
Janet Mahoney, Ph.D., RN, APN-C, NEA-BC, Monmouth University

As The Wall Street Journal has recently reported: “Nurses Are Again in Demand”. After years of relative equilibrium, the job market for nurses is heating up in many locations throughout the country, driving up wages and sign-on bonuses for the nation’s fifth-largest occupation. It is a great time to be a nurse!

Unlike other professions, nursing requires constant learning and certifications – it also offers a wealth of career opportunities. Three specialty areas that are increasingly in demand in hospitals include: Forensic Nursing & Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) nurses. If a nurse wants to work with abused populations, legal issues, sexual assault, life care planning, etc., a degree in Forensic Nursing will prepare that nurse for a career in forensics. If a nurse is interested in clinical practice, the Nurse Practitioner and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees will give them the skills to be experts in the field. Any nurse looking to specialize, needs to thoroughly research their educational options. Advanced degrees prepare nurses to apply evidence-based findings to their clinical practice.

Forensic nursing, for example, is an emerging field, and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) make up the largest sector. It’s a specialty that blends nursing with the judicial system. Monmouth University is proud to be one of only a dozen or so schools in the nation to offer this program. This online program prepares graduates to work in a variety of areas including child/elder abuse, legal nurse consulting, domestic violence intervention, life care planning, SANE, case manager, mass disaster response, and even death investigation. Forensic nurses, also known as forensic nurse investigators (FNIs), fulfill several different roles, from investigating crime scenes to providing expert testimony in court. Because of the advanced nature of this nursing position the Bureau of Labor Statistics has announced the probability of a 26% growth rate within the following decade, which is quite a jump from the 9% predicted growth rate of most other career paths across the United States.

Psychiatric mental health nursing is another growing specialty within nursing. Approximately 56 million American adults experience mental illness and/or a substance use disorder in a given year; and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association asserts that whole health begins with mental health. Psychiatric mental health registered nurses work with individuals, families, groups, and communities, assessing their mental health needs. The PMHN develops a nursing diagnosis and plan of care, implements the nursing process, and evaluates it for effectiveness. Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (PMH-APRNs) offer primary care services to the psychiatric-mental health population. PMH-APRNs assess, diagnose, and treat individuals and families with psychiatric disorders or the potential for such disorders using their full scope of therapeutic skills, including the prescription of medication and administration of psychotherapy.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) nurses practice at the highest educational level and have an equal place at the table with other doctoral level professionals. DNP curriculum focuses on evidence-based practice, organizational and systems leadership, information technology, professional collaboration, emerging practice challenges, and implementing translational research and science into practice. DNP students gain the knowledge and skills to improve health outcomes, promote safety standards and advocate at local, regional and national levels for policy changes and quality improvement. The online DNP program at Monmouth University is uniquely designed to prepare nursing professionals for leadership roles without removing them from the front lines of advanced nursing practice.

Only 1% of nurses in this country have a doctoral degree, according to the IOM (Institute of Medicine). Yet, the Future of Nursing report, created together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, concluded that there should be twice as many doctorate graduate nurses by 2020. To achieve this, at least 10% of all BSN graduates have to commit to studying towards an MSN (or preferably a DNP or PhD) within five years of their initial graduation.

Nurses are in demand and needed in all specialties. As new areas of practice emerge, nurses will be there to provide high quality and compassionate care to society.

However, without highly educated nursing faculty with advanced degrees to educate the next generation of nurses, the nursing shortage will continue. There will be a rippling effect as baby boomers start retiring in mass numbers. Fortunately, there are scholarships and grants offered through organizations such as Robert Wood Johnson, AACN, and Human Resource and Services Administration (HRSA) that are helping students in various ways to pursue advanced teaching positions in nursing. And some schools, like Monmouth University, offer graduate scholarships and a Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) to qualified students interested in becoming future nursing faculty.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has declared 2017 to be the “Year of the Healthy Nurse.” So as we celebrate National Nurses Week (May 6 – 12), I encourage all of us in the healthcare field to embrace this year’s theme “Nursing: the Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit.” The ANA defines a healthy nurse as someone who actively focuses on creating and maintaining a balance and synergy of physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, personal and professional well-being. There are 3.6 million RNs who are ideally positioned to be the best role models, educators, and advocates of health, safety, and wellness.

Whatever your role in the hospital, I encourage you to strive to model a healthy lifestyle, and celebrate the nurses you know who lead the charge for health and wellness.

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