It is amazing to consider all of the ways that medicine has changed over the centuries, from concoctions and potions created by people who were doing their best with what they knew to modern medicine, alive with nanotechnology, genotyping, and every advanced medicine in between. Medicine is a modern marvel!
Medicine’s Amazing History
It seems hard to imagine that just over 100 years ago, medicine was so different. The discovery of antibiotics revolutionized medicine and meant that people were no longer dying of relatively small cuts and scrapes, and further discoveries have pushed the possibilities of medicine beyond the imagination of any medical professional!
Along with the development of medicine in the last hundred years has been the development of the healthcare industry and the role of nurses in healthcare.
No longer seen as just the assistants to doctors and physicians, nursing has evolved to include a huge variety of tasks, focused on the core beliefs of patient care.
The Evolution of Nursing
These days, a nurse is likely to be both highly qualified and highly skilled in their role, and they may be in charge of their own team and their own group of patients.
Nurses are increasingly becoming specialists, with Registered Nurses (RNs) studying further to develop their understanding and qualifications (for example, doing extra RN to MSN qualifications to gain their Master of Science in Nursing) to specialize in medicine areas that require someone with an in-depth knowledge attending.
Areas of nursing such as obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, geriatric care, oncology, and even leadership and education have seen a sharp rise in the number of qualified nurses joining the ranks, and that has had a positive impact on both medicine as a whole as well as individual patient care too.
The Changes in Healthcare
In the modern era, healthcare is no longer just about the individual and individual symptoms. Nurses and healthcare staff are taking increasing steps to treat the person as a whole, with detailed notes and medical histories. Specialized nursing means that patients are getting better and more individualized care during their time in a hospital, and even as part of their primary healthcare.
Let us take a look at eleven ways healthcare and the role of nursing will change in the future, and some of the exciting changes we are already seeing.
The Importance of Education
The value of education cannot be underestimated, and nurses are at the forefront of the changing landscape of education in the healthcare world.
Increasingly we are seeing nurses take on ever more complex degree courses, such as RN to MSN degrees, and even further into doctorates. The RN to MSN degree particularly raises the game for nurses in the medical industry, taking their skills from entry-level basic healthcare towards a more specialized future.
Students can study for an RN to MSN degree while they are working, allowing them to continue earning while they complete their RN to MSN and build up the valuable clinic hours on the ground that make such a difference to the degree course and their experience.
Education is changing the face of healthcare, and better-educated nurses lead to better patient care from every aspect.
A Change of Leadership
With Nurses becoming better educated and taking on more specialized roles, we will see a huge shift in healthcare leadership styles on the ground.
Many nurses who do the RN to MSN qualifications will be looking to go into leadership roles. For those who want to take their education even further into doctorate levels, there are opportunities to build on leadership roles to the county, state, national, and even international levels, affecting real change and improving patient care through policy changes.
The Impact of Technology
Technology is playing a huge role in the changes in healthcare. For the first time in history doctors and nurses can see not only the symptoms presented ‘on the table’ as it were but with more advanced scanning, like MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanning and CT (Computed Tomography) scans, healthcare professionals can do non-invasive tests and get to the heart of the matter quicker with less distress.
It is not only the patient testing area that is seeing huge growth in technology either, but we could also soon have 3D printed organs, and specialized treatments matched exactly to the patient’s needs, helping to improve health where it is needed most.
Nurses and doctors also have better access to medical records and notes and patients themselves investing in things such as the Mi Band and Fitbits to record their own health in their own time. Technology’s place in healthcare has been firmly planted, and it is an exciting area to see growth in.
Health Data and Personalized Medicine
While patients are becoming more interested in their own health, technology is fast being used to understand medicine from a Big Data perspective, understanding how small changes can affect huge communities both at home and across the world.
As we have seen with the fight for a COVID-19 Vaccine when international bodies work together, rapid turnarounds can happen fast and improve the prospects for so many vulnerable patients.
Using Big Data to model changes is becoming commonplace in healthcare, [improving local patients’ lives and building a better picture of how diseases and viruses spread and affect populations. Epidemiology is the buzzword of the day, but it is the nurses on the ground who are working to be liaisons between the science and the patients.
Medicine as A Consumer Commodity
For as long as history has been recorded, medicine has been the preserve of either the rich or those brave enough to try experimental cures. In modern times though, medicine has opened up and is now much more inclusive.
So inclusive in fact that medicine has, in some ways, become somewhat of a commodity. Gone are the days when patients had no choice in their treatment, from specialists to hospitals, now patients are much more able to “shop around” for the right treatment and even opt for elective medicine that crosses the barriers between medicine and cosmetics.
Many more patients are opting to improve their health on a small scale, with things like better dental care, improved physiotherapy, and of course a bigger interest in mental health and wellbeing. When patients take their own health seriously, the healthcare profession can shift their focus to the more serious aspects of community health problems.
Aging Patients and A Rise in Geriatric Medicine
A huge area of growth over the next few decades will be the advancement in geriatric care, the care of, and the world’s older population.
The over 65s are now the biggest growing age group in the US, and the average life expectancy in the US is now around 79 years old, meaning that geriatric care will become even more important in the near future.
As our patients’ lives and the diets of our patients improve, their age-related illnesses will need specialized support from specifically trained and educated nurses and doctors.
Ethics Debates in Healthcare
Medicine has always had an issue with ethics. When doctors and nurses take their oaths, they promise the care for people’s health and not cause harm. This is becoming an issue due to patients’ age and the assumptions that the medical profession should attempt to keep patients alive at all costs.
The debate between ‘quality of life’ versus ‘quantity of life’ has long been an issue since medicine became more scientific. The debate rages now at what point to withdraw care, and whether that breaks the oath to preserve life.
As medicine moves on and the possibilities to save lives that may have otherwise been lost grow, the debate about how far medicine should go to preserve life will be one that is not easy, but a vital debate.
Social Media’s Influence in Healthcare
One of the issues facing modern medicine today is an issue that has come quite out of the shadows and suddenly appeared as a huge elephant in the room. That issue is, of course, in the use of social media in the medical profession.
There are many reasons to be skeptical and quite worried about social media’s adverse effect on medicine, but the second debate is the effect that medicine can and should have on social media itself. Should there even be a conversation?
With the rise of the ‘social media influencers’, modern healthcare needs to decide how it feels about doctors and nurses becoming social media stars in their own right, and just how much information is available online for the public to view and listen to.
Should medicine be private, and no information shared? How can the general public be sure that it is correct information and how dangerous it is to share?
Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have worked exceptionally hard to expel fake news from their platforms and take a very hard line when it comes to sharing medical content, but that does not mean social media users do not see is and sometimes the damage is done before the platform has a chance to remove the content.
Equally, when doctors and nurses begin to use the platforms, conversations need to be about whether that is a good idea, and what level of information they should share.
A great example of this is Dr. Mike Varshavski, a New York primary care physician who runs an exceptionally popular YouTube channel and regularly hosts “myth-busting” videos along with other social media famous doctor and nurse colleagues such as Dr. Danielle Jones (Mama Dr. Jones) and RN Bianca Antisera.
Expansion of Nursing Locations
As the breadth of nursing continues to grow, so will the locations where nurses and healthcare staff work.
In some states, Nurses who have done their RN to MSN qualifications and further are able to oversee and administer medications, allowing them more autonomy over their patients’ wellbeing and general health.
As more nurses opt to go down the further education routes of RN to MSN degrees and even MSN to Doctorate of Nursing Practice degrees, more specialized care from nursing teams will become more commonplace, and patients will begin to see the benefits.
Community Medicine Initiatives
While the location expanses for nursing will be a big change in the way nurse teams care for patients, there is also likely a huge shift towards community medicine efforts.
A key part of the RN to MSN degree path is likely to focus on nurses’ role within the community and how community medicine can make a difference on both a local and national population level.
The use of Big Data in medicine will also affect community medicine, with more focus on how medicine can be used as part of a One Health approach to human health, animal health, and environmental health. The RN to MSN degree course will prepare future MSN nurses to take a leading role in the big changes in the One Health sphere.
A Bigger Focus on Nutrition
A key focus in the One Health initiatives is going to be the focus on nutrition. Not just what food is ‘good’ for people, but how that food affects health. More studies are also being done to discover how different foods impact different demographics. There is a shift beginning to happen to turn to a holistic approach when it comes to individualized nutritional needs.
More and more research is being done every year on the effects of good food and well-raised food on health, and this is an area we as the human race need to get right for future generations.
Medicine is changing at a really fast pace, and the role of nurses within the healthcare sector is also changing with better education, like the RN to MSN degree courses now available online, nurses are going to continue being key to the improvement of healthcare across the world, leading us onto a bigger and brighter healthy future.