10 Key Nursing Trends in 2022
It’s been a long couple of years for nurses and others in healthcare. What will a new year bring? Experts predict that more nurses will be traveling, innovating and becoming entrepreneurs, among other nursing trends in 2022.
“The future is bright for nurses who have been so discouraged and burned out,” said Teri Dreher, RN, iRNPA, CCM, a board certified patient advocate and owner of NShore Patient Advocates and Seniors Alone in Chicago. “Because of the pain of the last couple of years, more and more people are looking for career shifts.”
10 trends affecting nursing jobs in 2022
1. COVID-19 takes a toll
Nurses are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed as wave after wave of COVID-19 patients have
flowed onto their units. Many have become burned out and ready to leave their nursing jobs in
“Nurses have literally given their lives to take care of patients, and it has a profound effect,” said
Bonnie Fuller, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, CTN-A, a professor at the Purdue University Global School
of Nursing based in West Lafayette, Indiana. “The pandemic has highlighted the critical role
nurses play. We are the backbone of the healthcare profession.”
Many healthcare professionals consider recent COVID-19 surges avoidable, with no end in
sight, due to people refusing vaccinations and mask wearing, according to an Association of
American Medical Colleges article.
2. Focus on behavioral health
Elaine Smith, EdD, MS, MBA, dean of the College of Nursing and Public Health at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, expects in the coming year to see a tremendous focus on behavioral and mental health concerns.
Nurses, other healthcare workers and people in general have experienced depression and anxiety. Long-term effects in children are not known, Smith added.
“Psychiatric nurse practitioners will be incredibly valuable moving forward in the care of people
post-pandemic,” Smith said.
3. More nurses traveling
“Travel nursing has expanded to meet the demand where the need is,” Fuller said. “It’s been
great for young nurses and other nurses to be able to travel and be financially rewarding.”
Nurses who travel also observe different ways of doing things in the hospitals where they
4. Nursing shortage
A nursing shortage is plaguing the nation, as nurses experiencing burnout leave the field and
seasoned nurses retire.
“We have a looming nurse shortage, particularly with the pandemic and the effect it has had on
nurses,” Fuller said. “It will have a profound effect on the healthcare system.”
Though enrollments in nursing schools remained strong during the pandemic, they will not be
able to graduate nurses fast enough to replace those leaving, especially with a shortage of
nursing school faculty, reports the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Some nursing schools are finding creative ways to increase the number of nurses graduated,
such as Jacksonville University’s partnership with Baptist Health for an accelerated second-degree nursing program. Additionally, more nursing programs have moved to distant learning and to simulation labs.
Compounding the shortage, nurses are leaving hospital employment for outpatient clinics,
insurance companies and other positions. As hospitals struggle to stay fully staffed, some are
resorting to sign-on bonuses and retention bonuses for nursing staff.
The American Nurses Association reported that by 2022, registered nurse vacancies, at
100,000 per year, will be higher than open jobs in other professions.
5. Nurse entrepreneurship
“Entrepreneurship is rising up for nurses, the ability for nurses to contract themselves with local
providers,” said Fuller, explaining that many nurses can now work from home, doing patient
assessments, providing education or conducting administrative work. Nurses are seeing a need
and responding to fill that need.
After working for years as a critical care nurse, Dreher founded a patient advocacy business.
She provides care management, resolves billing disputes and talks with physicians and helps
people navigate the healthcare system. She also has begun offering classes so other nurses
can learn these skills and have better work–life balance and economic growth. She has found
hospitals are becoming more interested in contracting with nurse patient advocates.
“We are seeing a definite uptick in interest,” Dreher said.
6. Public health and emergency preparedness
Smith reported “a renewed interest and awareness of public health and the importance of
nurses being well educated in public health principles.” Adelphi undergraduate nursing students
are signing up for a minor in public health at the university.
“The vast majority of our students were anxious to get into hospitals and healthcare facilities to
care for patients during the pandemic,” Smith added. “Now, [students] are providing care to
[COVID] patients in the hospital.”
Nurses also will pay more attention to emergency preparedness and disaster response, Smith
said. “Having more background and skill sets in the provision of care and coordination of care,
nurses have a valuable role to play.”
7. Nurse innovation
AACN’s Clinical Scene Investigator Academy, a hospital-based nurse leadership and innovation
training program, will be 10 years old in 2022, and the initiative continues to grow and prove the
value of nurse-led innovations.
At Orlando Health in Florida, nurses used simulation training to improve the health system’s
time to first shock compliance, a metric of the American Heart Association’s Get With The
Guidelines – Resuscitation (GWTG-R) program, according to a study in Critical Care Nurse.
Compliance increased from 42 percent in 2018 to 83 percent in 2018 and to 100 percent during
the first six months of 2020. In addition, the training became a foundation for code simulations
and mock code education throughout the hospital.
The study’s author, Andrea Paddock, MSN, APRN, ACCNS-AG, CCRN, CNS, expects
technology advances will continue to make simulations more accurately reflect reality. “Some
healthcare organizations have already begun to leverage artificial intelligence to take the
simulation environment to the next level via virtual reality. Hospitals tapping into this technology
is something I believe we will see much more of in the future.”
8. Technology growth
“More technology companies are offering tools to help manage patients safely at home,” Dreher
said. Additionally, nurses will work with patients wearing monitoring devices, or “wearables,” in
the community, according to Smith.
“Nurses will be huge in that arena,” Smith said. “Additionally, robotics and artificial intelligence
will continue to grow. Nurses will be integral to working with those technologies and need to be
developing competencies in their use or managing data from their use.”
Telehealth has boomed during the pandemic, and is expected to remain a force in the market in
2022, because consumers will demand it and physicians and advanced practitioners enjoy the
“Nurses and nursing students will need to master the communication skill sets and assessment
skills sets that telehealth provides opportunity for,” Smith said.
Fuller envisions nurses performing in-home health teaching through telehealth. They also can
perform assessments remotely.
9. Health equity
Nurses have a central role in in addressing social determinants of health and achieving health equity, Fuller said. And that plays into the health and well-being of the people nurses care for. “The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity” outlines the need for nurses to step up and provide “effective, efficient, equitable and accessible care for all
across the care continuum.”
10. Interprofessional partnerships
Fuller anticipates another nursing trend in 2022 will be an increase in interprofessional
partnerships, working collaboratively with physicians, pharmacists and other members of the
healthcare team. Retail pharmacists are already administering vaccines and performing some
“There is more of a teamwork and partnership to meet consumer demand,” Fuller said. “And
there is an expanding role for nurses in the community.”