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The Growing Experience Gap In Nursing and What It’ll Mean For Educators

nurse caring about patient

For the past 16 years, nurses have ranked at the top of Gallop’s poll of the most trusted and ethical professions. Nursing offers diverse career tracks and good pay relative to the amount of formal training needed.

However, over the past few years, the world has been experiencing a nursing shortage. And it is expected to get worse in the very near future.

Cracks in the System

People worldwide are rapidly aging and increasingly afflicted with chronic illnesses that require long-term care. By 2030, 1 in 6 people in the world will be aged 60 years or over. The CDC reports that six in ten Americans now have one chronic illness and four in ten have two or more. These two factors are fueling the need for more nurses who will provide care for a rapidly growing number of older and sicker patients.

Nurses are also aging, and about one-third of the nursing workforce will reach retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of registered nurses will grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026, partly due to the demand for health care services.

People worldwide are rapidly aging and increasingly afflicted with chronic illnesses that require long-term care. By 2030, 1 in 6 people in the world will be aged 60 years or over. The CDC reports that six in ten Americans now have one chronic illness and four in ten have two or more. These two factors are fueling the need for more nurses who will provide care for a rapidly growing number of older and sicker patients. Nurses are also aging, and about one-third of the nursing workforce will reach retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of registered nurses will grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026, partly due to the demand for health care services.

It would seem like an ideal confluence of events: as a generation of nurses retire and leave the workforce within the next decade, a new generation will take their place. However, there are now simply too few experienced nurses left to fill faculty positions in nursing schools. In addition, finding clinical space to conduct adequate hands-on training is also preventing nursing schools from accepting more students. Without clinical training sites, students miss out on valuable training hours.

Ultimately, patient safety and outcomes may suffer. Avoidable mistakes may be made due to a lack of experience. The experience gap, a lack of essential hands-on clinical training, must be addressed to prepare the new generation of nurses for the challenges of the modern health care system.

The tools exist to provide clinical training and bridge the gap in training due to a lack of experienced faculty; one of those tools is health care simulation. Through the incorporation of said tools, nursing schools can better prepare their students to treat a vast array of patients. More graduates can replenish the nurses who have left the profession. With a new focus on bridging the experience gap, nursing schools can begin to steer us away from the storm.

Closing the Gap

The process of correcting the shortage begins with closing the experience gap. Recently, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) reported that up to half of traditional clinical hours could be replaced with training done on nursing simulators.

Simulation training can help nursing schools provide clinical training that closes the experience gap and helps them replenish the nurses that have been lost. Another benefit of simulation is that it can be used to merge theory and practice as it allows learners to apply the skills they have learned in the classroom in a hands-on and safe environment.

As was stated previously, nursing is a practice discipline. Through simulation, students can rehearse how care is given in practice. Students learn how to make clinical decisions based on the knowledge they have acquired in the classroom, mastering medical skills and increasing their competence in avoiding errors.

Low-cost skills trainers, for example, can be used to hone a variety of nursing skills. Students can practice how to place an IV or draw blood, so they don’t cause patients pain. They can also listen to and identify normal and abnormal heart and lung sounds, so they recognize the symptoms of a serious ailment.

Skills trainers also allow students to practise life-saving resuscitation skills like CPR and they receive feedback on the effectiveness of their technique. This way students know when they are performing CPR correctly and practice until the technique becomes second-nature.

Likewise, a full-body, high-fidelity patient simulator like SUSIE® S2000 can further help close the experience gap by offering students more possibilities for skills development. SUSIE is an advanced, wireless and tetherless patient simulator and learning resource solution designed to facilitate the delivery of effective and realistic simulation learning experiences to nursing learners of all levels. SUSIE provides a complete solution built for achieving outcome-focused success and includes everything one needs for rapid integration into nursing curricula, such as Nursing Simulation Learning Experiences (SLEs), facilitator’s companion guide, and tablet PC.

A Bridge to the Future

A lack of nursing faculty does not have to hinder a student’s development as a medical professional. Simulators can be operated easily and by the same faculty members that conduct lectures. In light of reduced clinical availability, students can still gain hands-on practice.

By using simulation to provide nurses with more clinical hours, we could reduce the stress new nurses feel when they enter the workforce because they will be prepared. This means less burnout for nurses and better standards of care for patients.

We can see the storm on the horizon. There are tools available to help prepare us for the oncoming health care needs of millions. If we truly value the work nurses do, then we must make sure they will be there when we need them the most.

To learn more about Gaumard’s patient simulators, visit our page at https://bmec.asia/my/gaumard/

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