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15 Events That Changed Nursing in 2022

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Published November 15, 2022

Multiple events throughout 2022 have left a lasting impression on the nursing profession. Review these 15 events in light of your practice.
15 Events That Changed Nursing in 2022
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  • Several events in 2022 have had a significant impact on the nursing profession.
  • Nurses must be aware of the changing political, legal, and societal landscape to protect their license and career.
  • Events that changed nursing in 2022 included one of the largest nursing strikes in U.S. history, efforts to combat the nursing shortage, and legislation to support nurses and patient care.

Multiple events occurred throughout 2022 that have had a significant impact on nurses and the nursing profession. While some were single news items, others will have a long-lasting effect on managerial, political, and criminal actions.

Nurses must be aware of the changing political and societal landscape to protect their license while providing the best patient care possible. Consider these 15 events that occurred in 2022 and keep your eyes peeled for more newsworthy nursing events as the year comes to a close.

At a Glance: 15 Events That Changed Nursing in 2022

There are moments in history that forever change how nurses practice or how the profession is perceived. Throughout 2022 there were several of these events. While we can't name all of them, these 15 events and moments stood out as having an appreciable impact on the nursing profession.

15,000 Minnesota Nurses Strike

On September 12, 2022, 15,000 nurses across 16 hospitals from the Minnesota Nurses Association began a three-day strike to shed light on the staffing crisis and working conditions. The difficult decision was reached after months of fruitless negotiations and was the largest nurses' strike in U.S. history.

COVID-19

The pandemic, which began in early 2020, continued to play out across the U.S. in 2022 against the backdrop of a rising nursing shortage. The healthcare crisis has impacted each nurse differently, and their views are forever changed. During the early months of the pandemic, the media was generous with their praise for frontline workers, including nurses.

Public support has been encouraging, although some have experienced escalating racism and violence in the nursing workplace. The pandemic is one of the events that changed nursing in 2022, including how healthcare is delivered such as more nursing telemedicine options.

Nursing Shortage

The pandemic highlighted several gaps in the healthcare system, including the growing shortage of nurses. Nurses have quit in record numbers since 2020, and 34% say they plan to leave the profession by the end of 2022.

"Many healthcare workers decided to leave their profession after the crushing stress of the pandemic," says Lisa Malone, RN, and clinical product manager at Axxess, a home healthcare technology company. "With the aging population of the baby boomers, the need for healthcare workers will increase in the next 10 years."

In March, the American Hospital Association declared the shortage a "national emergency." The most severe shortages are expected in California, Texas, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Alaska. States are responding to the nursing shortage by hiring more general staff, hiring travel nurses, and investing in nursing education.

Monkeypox

Nurses had to play a part in debunking myths about monkeypox, a re-emerging viral disease that has historically been endemic and limited to seven African countries. The virus transmits through close or intimate contact. Most people fully recover within 2-4 weeks.

Nurses are influential in patient education at work and home. They must have accurate information about monkeypox as many patients' perceptions of infectious disease changed dramatically during the pandemic.

Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had a direct impact on nurses. Abortion clinics in states where abortions became illegal shut their doors. The ruling also placed legal restrictions on how healthcare providers could counsel patients.

Any type of pregnancy termination could place a healthcare provider's license and career in jeopardy. Some fear the legal battle may one day extend to the right to use contraception or fertility treatments.

ANA's Racial Reckoning Statement

The Racial Reckoning statement from the American Nurses Association (ANA) was a formal apology for the history of racism within the organization and nursing. In this statement, the ANA acknowledges how its past actions fostered inequities and racism within the nursing profession and hopes this apology will be a step toward reconciliation and healing.

Racism has limited nurses' ability to advance their profession, treat patients effectively, and maintain their own health and wellness. The organization believes that acknowledging the past starts the journey toward building an equitable future.

North Carolina Supreme Court Ruling

In August 2022, the North Carolina Supreme Court overruled a long-standing precedent that shielded nurses from liability when they followed doctors' orders. The law now allows nurses to be sued for medical errors, even when the physician ordered the treatment.

Some experts see the new ruling as a necessary step to further the authority of nurses and advanced practice registered nurses. However, the ruling also comes at a time when nursing fatigue, nurse burnout, and nurse staffing concerns are driving more nurses out of the profession.

Nurses are advised to know and follow current policies, document thoroughly, and carry personal nursing liability insurance. Above all, speak up when you have questions or concerns.

988 Suicide Prevention Hotline

Nurses should know about the new 988 suicide prevention hotline and how it may impact or impede treatment for mental health conditions. The line went live in the U.S. in July 2022, as the rate of depression and anxiety escalated during the pandemic.

The new number connects callers to mental health counselors who are available 24/7 for people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis. The largest concern has been whether the hotline will notify police, also called "nonconsensual active rescue."

While many believe the option may be better than calling 911 for a mental health crisis, improvements to the system are still needed.

Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act

The Act was signed into law in March 2022, following data that showed nurses and physicians are at a greater risk for suicide than the general population. Dr. Lorna Breen was an emergency room physician who died by suicide in April 2020.

After her death, her family discovered the stigma that surrounds mental health and healthcare professionals. "Discussions about the importance of mental health have been increasing over the last few years, and we know that the pandemic has exponentially increased the acceptance of prioritizing mental health," says Malone. "When healthcare organizations prioritize the mental health of their staff, retention improves, as well as patient outcomes."

The Dr. Lora Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act was created to normalize and prioritize mental healthcare for healthcare workers. Under this act, nurses will receive mental health training about managing risks, improving mental health, and developing resilience as a nurse.

Full-Practice Authority

In April 2022, New York and Kansas granted nurse practitioners (NPs) full-practice authority, joining over 20 other states. This move helps NPs provide cost-effective treatment and preventive services, which increases access to high-quality healthcare and reduces healthcare disparities.

Nurse practitioners in 27 states can now work as full-functioning providers without physician supervision. An NP's scope of practice is similar, if not identical, to a primary care provider's scope of practice. Additionally, data show the care received is also at least equal to a primary care physician.

"More than 30,000 nurse practitioners graduate each year," says Kevin Lee Smith, DNP, FNP, FAANP, and chief nurse practitioner officer with The Good Clinic. "Currently, 26 states and the District of Columbia allow 'full-independent practice,' which means that [certified nurse practitioners] are finally recognized for their training, knowledge, and experience as primary care providers."

Nurse Practitioners Fastest-Growing Occupation

In the next decade, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that NPs will be the No. 1 fastest-growing occupation in the U.S. Employment is expected to grow by 40% for NPs, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives as the baby boomer generation ages and the number of people with chronic diseases also grows.

Additionally, the physician shortage and a team-based approach to care also contribute to the profession's growth. The rate of growth is estimated at 46% from 2021-2031.

This growing shortage is one of the reasons Smith started The Good Clinic.

"The Good Clinic's goal is to build lasting relationships with our patients and guide them on their health journey, no matter how bumpy it may be," he says. "Our NPs are perfectly suited to help patients achieve their goals, improve the patient experience, and make healthcare less transactional."

He continues, "We think the growing numbers of NPs in the field of primary care is a wonderful opportunity to increase access to healthcare and provide a more person-centered, holistic experience for the patient."

Professional Associations Under Fire for Lack of Support

Nurses have accused several professional nursing organizations of abandoning them before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, there was a nursing shortage and concerns with workplace issues before the pandemic. Insufficient nurse-to-patient ratios were at the top of the list.

Many nurses entered the pandemic already tired and burned out. Then it appeared the ANA erected more barriers for bedside nurses than they removed, frustrating an already beleaguered nursing staff. However, in keeping with the divisive climate of the times, not all nursing staff agreed with the backlash against the professional associations.

Short Staffing Led to Guilty Verdict for Christann Gainey

On March 28, 2022, Christann Gainey pled guilty to the death of 84-year-old Herbert R. McMaster Sr. after he experienced an unwitnessed fall at a care facility. Gainey falsely documented eight neurological checks. McMaster was found dead in his wheelchair the following day from a subdural hematoma.

The long-term care facility followed unsafe nurse-to-patient ratios. At the time, Gainey was caring for 37 patients at one time. The administrative team had failed to support and protect the nurses from legal action by violating the provision for adequate supervision and interventions to prevent falls.

RaDonda Vaught Found Guilty of Criminally Negligent Homicide

On May 13, 2022, RaDonda Vaught was sentenced to three years of supervised probation after she injected the wrong medication, bypassing several safeguards and system warnings. This was an unusual case since most medical errors are addressed through professional discipline and civil courts.

The ANA called criminalizing medical errors "unnerving" and believes the verdict creates a "dangerous precedent." While the prosecution accused Vaught of ignoring several system warnings, the defense argued the safeguards were so faulty that nurses routinely used a manual override to access the correct drugs.

This is yet another criminal case that highlights the necessity for nurses to actively protect their licenses and career.

Student Debt Forgiveness

Student loan repayments were paused in March 2020 and set to resume on December 31, 2022. In mid-2022, President Biden announced a multifaceted student debt forgiveness plan that affects many nurses and healthcare workers.

The administration also proposes to change the income-driven repayment plans so borrowers pay no more than 5% of their monthly income toward undergraduate loans. This affects students with Pell Grants and those who did not receive Pell Grants to a different degree. However, the future repayment structure will help nurses keep more of their salary.

Meet Our Contributors

Portrait of Lisa Malone, RN

Lisa Malone, RN

Lisa Malone is a clinical product manager at Axxess, a home healthcare technology company. She works closely with Axxess developers to guide solutions from concept to launch. Before joining Axxess, she served as the director of clinical services at Maxim Healthcare Services, where she led colleagues in providing exceptional care.


Portrait of Kevin Lee Smith, DNP, FNP, FAANP

Kevin Lee Smith, DNP, FNP, FAANP

Kevin Lee Smith is the chief nurse practitioner officer with The Good Clinic. He has experience helping to create the MinuteClinic model and providing early-stage informatics leadership at Zipnosis. Smith has also been an active primary care nurse practitioner and served in faculty positions at the University of Minnesota throughout his career.

Sources

Davis M, et al. (2021). Association of U.S. nurse and physician occupation with risk of suicide. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2778209

Landi H. (2022). Third of nurses plan to leave their jobs in 2022, survey finds.

https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/providers/third-nurses-plan-leave-their-jobs-2022-survey-finds

MacPherson K. (2022). COVID and racism cause nurses of color to face "dual pandemic."

https://www.rutgers.edu/news/covid-and-racism-cause-nurses-color-face-dual-pandemic

Quality of nurse practitioner practice. (2020). https://www.aanp.org/advocacy/advocacy-resource/position-statements/quality-of-nurse-practitioner-practice

State practice environment. (2022). https://www.aanp.org/advocacy/state/state-practice-environment

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