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Clinical Systems Leadership

The Impact of ACA on Nursing

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While many politicians continue to debate the merits and shortfalls of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, its affects are already being felt throughout the health care industry. The ACA has helped millions of people get health insurance or better coverage, which directly impacts the work of nurses for better and worse.

If you’ve been considering earning your Master of Science in Nursing or another nursing degree, make sure you understand the full impact that the ACA may have on your career.

More patients, higher demand for health care
The Heritage Foundation estimates that the ACA has expanded health insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans. This means that the demand for health care has increased as well.

For people considering pursuing a degree in nursing, there may be no better time than now. Employment opportunities for nurses are available all over the country because of higher demand.

With increased demand, shortfalls are also expected, particularly for primary care professionals. This opens the door for registered nurses to become nurse practitioners and perform many of the jobs of a primary care physician.

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Greater workloads
With more patients being covered under the ACA, workloads and stress for nurses may increase as well. If demand grows, but the number of health care professionals falls short, as many expect, it could lead to nurses being overburdened with hefty patient loads.

Increased funding
While increased demand and coverage could cause some headaches, the ACA also provides a pathway for nurses to get funding to improve their careers, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation explained.

“The health reform law contains provisions that will produce more nurses to meet increasing demands for health care, prepare more highly-skilled nurses to better meet the needs of an aging population with more complex health problems, and create opportunities for nurses to participate in and lead efforts to redesign the nation’s ailing health care system,” RWJF senior adviser for nursing Susan Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., said on the organization’s website. “But we need broad system and culture change as well.”

If you’re an RN, look into funding opportunities to help you gain your MSN or Ph.D.

Opportunities with the elderly, away from hospitals
The ACA has already changed the way that many are getting their health care. According to All Nursing Schools, people are going outside of hospitals to get access to care, such as outpatient facilities or community-based care centers.

Geriatrics is also a growing field as the baby boomer generation ages and faces new medical issues. Consider pursuing an advanced degree focusing on geriatric nursing.

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