By 2030, one in five Americans will be over the age of 65. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, providing adequate care for America’s second-largest population group will continue to be one of health care’s greatest challenges. Current medical policies aren’t designed to accommodate a growing population of older Americans, many of whom are widowed, live on a low, fixed income, or are battling multiple chronic conditions.
Credentialed nurse leaders will play a crucial role in successfully managing this challenge. In fact, the Institute of Medicine has called for a doubling of the population of nurses with doctoral degrees, along with a rise of nurses in the workforce to 80 percent. Professionals with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree will be crucial to managing the policies and institutions of future healthcare.
Problems of an aging population
Health care policies must evolve to care more efficiently to handle increased demand. The goal: to reduce costs of care while maintaining a high standard of care and minimizing socio-economic discrepancies.
To accomplish this, policymakers are working on a wide variety of policy issues. These include effectively implementing the Affordable Care Act, restructuring health care delivery systems to be more home-based, emphasizing preventive care benefits in Medicare, and developing strategies for chronic care coordination.
The role of DNPs
Nurses are crucial to the success of these endeavors, providing care in both the home and hospital/nursing home environments. As the medical field is restructured, nurses will take on expanded roles in patient care to improve outcomes, reduce errors, and lower costs.
DNPs are qualified not only to give care but to take a leadership role in policy formation. Instead of a research focus, the DNP degree emphasizes advanced clinical practice and leadership skills. Their DNPs advanced education and experience give insight into how to best utilize nurses in these restructured health systems. The National Institute of Nursing Research notes that while nursing research has been successful in recent decades, it hasn’t been fully put into practice, and that must be a priority in coming years. DNPs have the professional skills to do just that
The policies currently being implemented are already starting to emphasize the role of DNPs in care. Nurse practitioners are the primary caregivers in the home-health environment, and in hospitals they work with physicians and other health professions to coordinate care. They’re additionally involved in the area of community-based primary care, a growing strategy used to manage chronic illnesses, which is a major issue for aging populations.
The aging U.S. population has given rise to a unique set of health care challenges, and nurse leaders are crucial to successfully addressing these issues. In policy formation, DNPs can help shape the role of nurses in restructured health care systems, and in the clinical environment they are able to use best clinical evidence to improve outcomes and implement these policies. An online Doctor of Nursing Practice from Catholic University of America can put you at the forefront of medical care in coming years.