Healthcare Reform Places Nurses in Leadership Roles
With elections less than a month away, healthcare reform continues to be a hot topic. With Democrats working to uphold the current Affordable Care Act and Republicans working towards repealing and replacing reforms, one thing is for certain — healthcare reform will continue to be on the agenda in one form or another regardless of who sits in the White House after Election Day.
The basic goals of healthcare reform are clear: cut costs while improving the quality of care. One fact that’s not debatable is that the current costs and projected cost of healthcare in the U.S. aren’t sustainable.
But what does healthcare reform mean for nurses, who play such a huge role in the patient care process? The answer: nurses will be key leaders in the implementation of healthcare reform, and the demand for their positions will grow, as will the responsibilities of their position.
Nurses will have a large influence on how healthcare reform is actually implemented in everyday patient care. The overall objective of healthcare reform is for hospitals and other providers to provide the highest quality care using best practices and in the most cost effective manner possible. According to Nebraska Methodist College President Dr. Dennis Joslin, that’s where nurses will need to take the lead.
“Nurses will be in the best position to influence the adoption of best practices,” Joslin said. “Nurses will also be in a prime position to implement strategies that will result in decreasing a patient’s length of stay — a critical financial component for providers.”
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Healthcare reform will ask nurses to improve on their current roles, such as taking measures to improve patients’ overall experience as well as safety. But it will also place new responsibilities on nurses as well. Healthcare reform will shift providers’ focus from only treating patients when they are sick to promoting overall health and wellness.
The focus emphasizes education for patients about health and wellness, so they are healthier and less likely to need hospitalization, and when they do, their stay is as short as possible. The shift will place nurses in a lead role in educating patients about healthier lifestyles and how to effectively manage chronic illness outside of hospital settings.
Healthcare reform also means an increased demand for highly-skilled nurses. The increased roles and responsibilities of the nursing position will create a greater demand for well-educated nurses, especially those prepared for advanced practice with master’s or doctorate degrees.
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