With the passage of the Healthcare Reform act in March, 2010, over 30 million Americans will be added to the patient loads of doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses. Experts are expecting a deficit of physicians, leading to even more hurried healthcare visits or longer waiting times for patients. A solution to this problem may be both in the further training and education of nurses, as well as broadening their roles within the medical practices, hospitals and clinics.
Many nurses today are licensed with two-year degrees in nursing, giving them a good basis for medical care, but not nearly enough education to fill the gaps between basic nursing skills and physician-level care. In order to bridge this gap, nurses can gain further education or certifications in a more seamless manner than today’s nursing programs. Giving nursing students a better path toward higher education in their field may help inspire them to learn more and become more confident in their skills and career choices. Nurses can also be vital to the development of policies within the medical community, letting their experience, drive and intelligence open up the field of nursing further into the physician's role in medicne in order to ensure that nurses' medical skills are being used for the benefit of society. As the physician shortage draws closer, it may be a logical conclusion to allow nurses to take on more responsibility within their realm of expertise.
Giving nurses and nursing students the ability to further their education and bringing them into the realm of management and policy making within the medical community may be the best solution to the healthcare gap that will likely be experienced in America once the Healthcare Reform Act is put into place. The career satisfaction for nurses comes from knowing that they are able to help their patients get well, and by expanding the education and opportunities for nurses and nursing students, that satisfaction and subsequent excellent patient care is can only grow stronger.
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