The Vital Role of a Registered Nurse

Registered nurses are in high demand and the increased population of the elderly and diagnosis of disorders will only increase the need. As the population ages, not only are their more elderly patients but registered nurses will be retiring causing a need for additional registered nurses to take their place.

What a Registered Nurse Does on a Day-To-Day Basis

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients about various health conditions, and provide emotional support to patients and their families. Registered nurses typically do the following:

  • Record patients’ medical histories, treatments and symptoms
  • Administer patients’ medicines
  • Set up plans for patients’ care
  • Observe patients and record their observations
  • Consult and collaborate with doctors and colleagues
  • Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
  • Teach patients and their families how to manage and prevent illnesses or injuries

The Growth of Nursing

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for healthcare services will increase because of the aging population. Registered nurses also will be needed to educate and care for patients with various elderly chronic conditions including arthritis, dementia, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. The increased diagnosis of disorders will also increase the need for additional registered nurses.

The Aging Population

As the population of baby boomers begins to age more of the elderly will need the assistance of registered nurses. Registered nurses will be needed to help with elderly patients as they have a higher rate of illness and disease.¬† According to the National Council on Aging, about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 68% have at least two. Some of the typical illnesses and diseases include osteoarthritis, stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, diabetes, cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Osteoarthritis – the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone. Osteoarthritis causes pain and stiffness in the hip, knee and thumb joints.

Stroke – occurs when blood flow is cut off to the brain. The brain cells need oxygen and glucose to survive.

Heart Attack – occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart is severely reduced. A buildup of fat, cholesterol and plaque narrows the coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood and can cause a heart attack.

Alzheimer’s Disease – a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.

Depression – feelings of helpless, hopeless and worthlessness. Depression can happen with a reduction in physical activity in the elderly.

Diabetes – as a body gets older the eating patterns of humans begins to put a strain on the regulation of blood sugar and insulin. Adult-onset diabetes can also put the elderly at risk for heart disease, problems with the circulatory system and many other issues brought on by diabetes.

Cancer – the term used for diseases were abnormal cells divide without control and invade other tissue. Early screening for cervical and colorectal cancers is recommended and can be carried out by additional registered nurses. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and hepatitis B vaccine can lower the risk of liver cancer.

Parkinson’s Disease – a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Parkinson’s disease has more than doubled in older men from 1976 to 2005 according to studies.

Not only are registered nurses needed to treat the aging population but the registered nurses themselves are beginning to retire in bigger numbers. As many as 1 million registered nurses may retire in the next 10 to 15 years. More registered nurses will be needed to replace those that are retiring

Increased Diagnosis of Disorders

More doctors and registered nurses will be needed to treat disorders that have increased in diagnosis over the last 10 to 20 years. Some of those disorders include Autism, ADHD and Asthma.

Autism – one in six children is diagnosed with some form of Autism, whether high functioning or low functioning. Some argue that Autism is a rare gene mutation that is triggered by environmental factors. Others say that doctors are just better at diagnosing Autism. Others target the survival of pre-term babies as a pre-cursor to Autism. Regardless of the cause, more children are being diagnosed with Autism and will require additional doctors and registered nurses to treat these patients.

ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common risk factors for ADHD include genetics, brain injury, alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, premature delivery and low birth weight. Registered nurses will be needed to offer families and newly pregnant women education and resources to stay away from the common risk factors of ADHD.

Asthma – The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology is seeing an increase rate of asthma. Some research points to the increase use of certain medications as a cause for the increase in asthma. An increase in obesity causes a restriction in breathing and may lead to higher rates of asthma.

All of these factors are increasing the need for registered nurses. Are you interested in becoming a registered nurse? The Associate of Science in Nursing degree program provides training to prepare college graduates to enter the nursing profession as a registered nurse. Upon graduation and licensure, college graduates will be eligible to seek employment in hospitals, clinics, private duty, urgent and acute care centers, and various other medical or business facilities requiring the services of registered nurses. Contact us today to learn more about the Associates of Science in Nursing degree program at Gwinnett College.