There are patients, doctors and other stakeholders in the health care industry who expect the nurse to be able to do a wide variety of tasks exceedingly well at all times although the trend today is going towards specialization in the numerous sub-fields in nursing such as pediatric care, surgical room attendant, geriatric hospital department and other specific areas of nursing practice. This paper is a discussion of some of the impacts of a report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on the effects of these trends in health care field on nursing education and current professional practice. A trend in nursing today that clearly affects every nurse is the movement towards specialization in which a nurse is expected to be fully versed in the intricacies of a particular specialty, such as being the nurse of a cardiac unit, a pediatric unit or a geriatric unit in a large health care institution. This is a big challenge for nurses as they should undergo more frequent continuing medical education or CME programs to keep abreast of new knowledge. Hospitals and doctors now increasingly rely on a nurse to do more tasks even beyond their usual job descriptions. The other major trend now is a move towards more nursing care in specialized settings other than a hospital such as nursing homes, retirement villages and other assisted-living facilities to provide the palliative end-of-life nursing care to the growing elderly population segment as the Baby Boom generation retires. The IOM Report on Nursing
Education The nursing profession is today in a transition of sorts as it confronts new challenges in the health care industry such as higher expectations from activist consumers (the knowledgeable patients who actively demand participation in their nursing care) and the changed landscape of a health care industry such as growing consolidation of hospitals and health maintenance chains. A movement towards cost containment likewise imposes additional burdens on nurses to cut down on unnecessary costs and re-examine the cost-benefit analysis of nursing care. Parents, students and nursing educators have to make the cost of nursing education really worth it. Nurses today are a vital part of the health care team and should play that role according to what is expected of them. However, nurses need to be competent in their areas of expertise to be able to deliver the required nursing care through relevant education and continuous training. The Institute of Medicine report had correctly identified the two areas critical to letting the nurse do a job well to exceed expectations: increase the quality of nursing education to make it all the more relevant in a rapidly-changing health care industry environment and various nurse settings and secondly, pursuit of CME training programs to promote seamless academic progression. The rapid transformation of the health care system today demands that nurses continue to update their knowledge after leaving nursing school through relevant practice and educational programs to prevent obsolescence of that knowledge. The IOM report emphasizes the need for a rational program to avoid the undue high expectations from nurses to do everything and know all about patient care (IOM, 2010, p. 1). The right response is to specialize in a specific field. Nursing in Primary Care – the continued exodus towards managed health care systems has reduced the number of primary care physicians (PCP).