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The World of Nursing: Then and Now

Pam Cipriano, PhD, RN, FAAN, NEA-BC Editor-in-chief | American Nurse Today

  • Nursing care is highly specialized, and hospital patients are grouped geographically in units by disease or body system.
  • Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans are the first order of business before a definitive diagnosis is made.
  • The average length of stay in acute-care hospitals is 4 days (down from 11.4 days in 1975).
  • Heart revascularization procedures are done on an outpatient basis in the catheterization lab in one day.
  • Scopes and lasers are used to treat numerous bleeding conditions.
  • I.V. infusions are regulated with sophisticated pumps run by safety software.
  • Plastic shoes, clogs, and sneakers are common footwear for nurses.
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians prepare, compound, and deliver drugs and infusions following rigorous safety checks, sometimes involving preparation in special hoods.
  • Automated beds are used to weigh and reposition patients.
  • Ceiling-mounted lifts transport patients from bed to commode.
  • Nursing caps occupy space in museums.
  • More than two-thirds of patients exceed the 5-year survival rates for most cancers.
  • Online references for pharmaceuticals, nursing procedures, and evidence-based practice provide instant information at the point of care.
  • Home-care nurses provide acute- and critical-care interventions, and teach family members how to perform these techniques.
  • National patient safety goals mandate practices to minimize the risk of errors.
  • Multidrug resistant organisms create daily challenges for patients, families, staff, and caregivers.
  • Elderly patients undergo invasive procedures at the request of family, even when healthcare professionals know such care is futile.
  • Low-birth-weight babies have a survival rate of 90% (up from less than 50% in 1960).
  • Nurses provide a growing percentage of primary-care and chronic-care patient management.
  • Nurses are leaders in every aspect of healthcare delivery, education, research, and policy formation.

While some people pine for the “good old days," we need to appreciate the scientific and technological advances that allow nurses to deliver sophisticated care in a contemporary fast-paced environment. At the same time, we must preserve and practice the time-honored skills of listening, therapeutic conversation, and personal touch in caring for patients and families.

Nurses are the ultimate healthcare monitors—vigilant observers and problem solvers, poised to take action whatever the challenge. Our mindset is one of preserving the unique attributes of our roles while embracing the progress that helps us excel.


Featured Author: American Nurse Today
American Nurse Today, the official journal of the American Nurses Association (ANA) is a fresh voice of nursing across America. The journal reaches over 175,000 dedicated nurses in a multitude of specialties and practice settings.

Published monthly, six times in print and six times in electronic format, American Nurse Today is a comprehensive, timely, trusted information source that nurses can rely on to:
• Enhance patient outcomes
• Develop their professional careers
• Build their educational foundation of best practices

As the only full-service professional organization representing the nation’s 3.1 million Registered Nurses, ANA is the driving force for nurses. ANA is a recognized and respected voice that shapes nursing practice standards and defines the code of ethics for the profession. ANA keeps the interests of nurses in the forefront of national debate and is responsible for many healthcare reforms. The organization focuses its work on core issues of vital concern to the nation’s registered nurses – nursing shortage, appropriate staffing, health and safety, workplace rights and patient safety/advocacy in addition to its cornerstone work, ethics and standards.

This article was originally published on American Nurse Today

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