Nursing career path evolves, now includes care in community settings

As nursing roles change, so do the career paths nurses take with many moving away from the hospital setting to work for home health agencies, ambulatory care centers, long-term care facilities and other places in the community, reported.

And the healthcare community encourages this evolution. Many medical offices and hospitals offer orientation, mentorship programs and residencies to nurses interested in a career change, according to the article.

Starting out isn't as easy as it was in the past--long-time, experienced nurses often delay retirement, leaving older nurses in positions longer than before and new graduates looking for work. The younger generation of nurses reports difficulty finding hospital jobs, particularly in urban areas with lots of nursing schools, the article states. And when hospitals do hire nurses, they look for more highly educated and skilled workers.

With the Institute of Medicine's recommendations that 80 percent of nurses hold a bachelor's degree by 2020, some hospitals want even more education--master's prepared nurses to step into specialty and leadership roles, Terry K. Bennett, R.N., director of nurse recruitment at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Maryland and the immediate past president of the National Association for Health Care Recruitment, told

Although new graduates can often make their way into internship programs, the community setting is a growing option with more openings in the long-term care and ambulatory care facilities. These facilities now offer training programs in specialties like med-surg, as well as experience in dealing with myriad of tasks from wound care to chronic illness care, dementia and behavioral health, according to the article.

Programs like these can teach new nurses sharp critical-thinking skills, customer service and foster a positive attitude--skills that hospitals and healthcare facilities look for in new hires, Kimberly Taaca, R.N.,executive director for primary care at DuPage Medical Group in Illinois, told the publication.

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