The top trends in nursing for 2022 build on those that were emerging before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nursing shortages have been a concern for the past decade, with nurse practitioners (NPs), in particular, increasingly in demand. Nurse burnout, fueled in part by staffing issues, necessitated a closer look at support for professionals in the field. Meanwhile, technological advances allowed for increasing reliance on videoconferencing to deliver health care services.
The onset of the pandemic in 2020 exacerbated concerns with staffing levels, the incidence of burnout and the reliance on technology in health care. Current nursing trends reflect this development, and Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) programs are preparing nurse leaders to adapt to trends for 2022 and beyond.
1. Greater Demand for Nurses
The Nurses Services Organization (NSO) identified staffing shortages as a top trend in nursing for 2022. As the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) points out, these shortages are creating more job opportunities for nurses.
For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 114,900 additional jobs for NPs between 2020 and 2030, representing a 52% increase. By comparison, the BLS projects 9% job growth for all registered nurses (RNs) during that time, or about 194,500 openings each year. The projected job growth for all professions is 8%.
Why Nurses Are in High Demand
For years, a growing population of older adults, an increasing interest in preventive care and the rising average age of nurses have driven up the demand for nursing professionals. The pandemic shifted preexisting staffing concerns into overdrive.
A 2020 survey of nurses — conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers — showed their average age was 52. Among all registered nurses (RNs), 19% were 65 or older — an increase of more than 5 percentage points compared with 2013. The American Nurses Association (ANA) predicted that some 500,000 nurses would retire by 2022.
The demands of the pandemic made an already challenging job even more stressful for many nurses, some of whom have left the profession as a result. A 2021 Morning Consult report showed nearly 1 in 5 health care workers had quit during the pandemic. That same year, health care job search tool Vivian reported that 43% of nurses were considering leaving.
An increased emphasis on community-based care and more opportunities for specialization also are among the factors driving the demand for nurses.
How Health Care Is Addressing Nursing Shortages
Staffing problems in the nursing profession can have implications for patient care and can increase the stress placed on nurses covering for open positions. Some health care facilities have had to move procedures to other facilities or postpone treatment of non-life-threatening conditions.
Many hospitals and other health care organizations are turning to staffing organizations for help filling vacant nursing positions. Additionally, some medical facilities are offering incentives to nurses, including:
- Student loan payback
- Child care and transportation
- Education and training reimbursement
- Referral and retention bonuses
2. More Support for Nursing Professionals
The health care profession is moving to provide additional support for nurses’ mental health and physical safety.
Carstens, a provider of health care support products, cites resilience as a critical factor in retaining nurses and addressing staffing concerns. To build resilience, the company predicts, additional support for nurses’ mental health and physical safety will be among the top nursing trends for 2022.
A survey of nurses conducted between January and November of 2020, according to a report in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, shows 34% of nurses reported “emotional exhaustion.” A 2021 report from the nursing union National Nurses United reveals concerns with limited personal protective equipment (PPE) and with COVID-19 exposure among nurses during the pandemic.
How Health Care Is Supporting Nurses’ Well-Being
The industry is responding with support efforts aimed at bolstering nurses’ mental and physical health. Among the mental health initiatives are:
- Group sessions that encourage nurses to address the challenges they are facing
- Efforts to promote mindfulness on the job
- Dedicated rooms that allow nurses to take a mental break
- Care packages that focus on emotional support practices using aromatherapy and meditation
Health care facilities also are working to enhance physical safety measures for nurses by clearly communicating prescribed emergency response efforts, increasing the availability of PPE and taking additional measures to sanitize medical settings.
3. Increased Reliance on Telehealth
The use of telehealth (including telemedicine) was on the rise prior to the pandemic. But challenges such as technology limitations and lack of familiarity with the approach prevented explosive growth. However, health and safety restrictions related to COVID-19 left health care providers with little choice but to offer care remotely via telehealth.
By 2021, according to McKinsey & Co., telehealth was used 38 times more than in February 2020, just prior to the pandemic. Nearly 17% of all patient visits were online. Patients and medical professionals alike have become more willing to use telehealth, and health care regulators have begun to allow widespread use of telehealth for patient visits.
Today, the industry is embracing the use of telehealth as a long-term practice. The NSO’s list of predicted nursing trends for 2022 includes the continued regular use of telehealth.
Impact of Telehealth on Nursing
Technological advancements are expanding access to health care, providing greater opportunity for nurses to address patients’ needs, and offering more convenience to patients and medical professionals. However, increasing reliance on telehealth is raising some issues that nurses should keep in mind.
- Cyber Security: Nurses should be aware of the potential for technology-related security risks pertaining to data sharing and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and take precautions to safeguard patient privacy.
- Appropriate Uses: Nurses must be mindful of care they can deliver through telehealth — monitoring chronic conditions such as diabetes or mental health issues, for example — and health issues that call for in-person care, such as listening to the patient’s heart or conducting tests.
- Technology Access: To ensure that telehealth doesn’t become a barrier to equitable care, nurses should consider whether the patient has access to adequate technological equipment.
- Licensing and Reimbursement: Nurses should ensure that licensing laws and insurance reimbursement guidelines allow for practicing across state lines, when necessary.
Prepare for Future Nursing Trends
Trends in nursing in 2022 include increasing reliance on telehealth and growing demand and additional support for nurses. You can prepare to navigate future nursing trends and advance your career through the University of North Dakota’s online Master of Science in Nursing. Offering two specializations, our M.S.N. program can help prepare you for a career as a family nurse practitioner or psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner by teaching you valuable skills and knowledge in a flexible, 100% online program.
Discover how the University of North Dakota can help you reach your professional goals.