Understanding Top Trends in Nursing and Their Impact on Staffing

The healthcare industry is always evolving, and nursing is no exception. Recent trends in the field can have significant implications for staffing within healthcare organizations. Understanding these trends and their potential impact on nursing staff is crucial for healthcare administrators and managers aiming to maintain a high standard of patient care while also supporting their nursing teams. Here are some current trends in nursing and what they mean for staffing:

Top Trends in Nursing

Several of the top trends in nursing relate to the dire need for talent. Nearly 100,000 registered nurses left the profession during the pandemic, and over 600,000 current RNs have expressed an intent to leave within the next few years.1 Some of these exits are due to retirement, but stress and burnout — which the pandemic heightened — are responsible for many of them. As a result, we’re facing the triple phenomenon of a nursing shortage, high demand for nurses, and a heavy reliance on temporary nursing assignments. 

Two related trends are helping to mitigate poor retention in the nursing industry. The growing emphasis on mental health is a deliberate response to the nursing shortage. As healthcare employers acknowledged the stressful conditions that nurses work under, they came to prioritize factors such as job satisfaction and work-life balance. The idea is to create a more agreeable work environment so nurses don’t feel compelled to pursue other opportunities. 

There’s also the continuing rise of telehealth. Though this trend isn’t directly related to the nursing shortage, it’s helping to resolve the shortage by improving work conditions for nurses and expanding the talent pool.

What the Top Nursing Trends Mean for Staffing

The nursing industry may see a range of outcomes resulting from the above trends. The following are some effects you may see in the coming years:

Reallocated Funding

Travel nursing contracts reached a peak during the height of the pandemic. Now, we’re in a nominally post-pandemic period, and funding is going toward other solutions to relieve the nursing shortage. In Oregon, for example, the state nursing association has created a plan for ending reliance on travel nurses altogether through financial aid for nursing students, increased salaries for nurses, and a greater emphasis on nurses’ mental health.

An Expanded Workforce

In an interview with Healthcare IT News, Wendy Deibert, an RN and vice president of telehealth services at Mercy Virtual, said that telehealth is so attractive to health organizations because it allows them to expand the pool of nursing talent.2 She specifically mentions nurses who are nearing retirement and those who have retired because of physical limitations. The telehealth model allows them to apply their expertise in a less physically and emotionally demanding ecosystem. 

Though telenurses won’t be able to carry out every nursing responsibility, their contributions can greatly ease the workloads of the on-site nursing staff, relieving some of the pressure of the nursing shortage.

A More Diverse Leadership

A 2020 study published in the Journal of Nursing Regulation revealed that diversity is lacking in the registered nursing community, with over 80% of RNs identifying as Caucasian.3 Part of the reason for this uneven representation is the lack of mentorship and outreach. One way to establish solutions is by hiring leaders who can relate and speak to candidates from underrepresented groups.  

Trends in nursing are shaping the future of healthcare staffing in significant ways. By understanding and adapting to these trends, healthcare organizations can create a supportive environment for their nursing staff, improve patient care, and maintain a competitive edge in the industry. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, staying informed and proactive about these trends will be key to successful staffing in nursing.

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  1. Cara Murez, “About 100,000 U.S. Nurses Left Workforce During Pandemic,” U.S. News & World Report, April 14, 2023, https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2023-04-14/about-100-000-u-s-nurses-left-workforce-during-pandemic.
  2. Bill Siwicki, “How Virtual Nursing Can Help Solve Many Workforce Shortage Woes,” Healthcare IT News, March 14, 2023, https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/how-virtual-nursing-can-help-solve-many-nursing-shortage-woes.
  3. 3. “The 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey,” Journal of Nursing Regulation, April 2021. rel=”noopener noreferrer”