Nursing and Healthcare Trends We Can Expect to See in 2024

Bernard Grant, Ph.D.
Updated December 19, 2023
Edited by
    Nursing and healthcare trends for 2024 can help nurses prepare for coming changes. Discover what the future holds for the nursing profession.
    Three nurses, two female and one male, are walking and talking together through a hospital ward.
    • Trends continue to change as nursing attempts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Nursing and healthcare trends in 2024 include higher wages for nursing professionals.
    • Another 2024 trend is new legislation to regulate nurses in nursing homes.

    Nurses are the largest group of healthcare professionals worldwide, yet the nursing shortage continues to impact healthcare facilities. Discover the nursing and healthcare trends professionals expect to see in 2024.

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    11 Nursing Trends We Expect to See in the Coming Years

    Some trends that will impact nursing include proposed legislation to regulate nursing home staffing and AI’s impact on healthcare and nursing education. Nurses may also earn more money as the demand increases, and more nurses become nurse practitioners and pursue specialties, such as virtual nursing.

    1 | Job Growth for Nurses Will Continue to Rise

    The United States still faces a nursing shortage, and the following factors have contributed to the current situation:

    • Increased demand for care during the pandemic
    • Retiring nurse educators mean a falling number of nursing faculty
    • Nurse burnout from the pandemic
    • An aging population with complex medical needs
    • Nursing staff reaching retirement
    • Greater shortage in rural areas

    Job growth is a function of supply and demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6% job growth for registered nurses (RNs) from 2022-32, which is faster than average. The agency also projects an exponential 37% job growth for advanced practice nurses.

    2 | Home Healthcare Will Increase in Popularity

    COVID-19 prompted an unexpected rise in the need for home healthcare nurses. Demand for these nurses will continue to grow as the population ages and nursing homes close across the country.

    In response, the Choose Home Care Act was introduced to the Senate in July 2021 and to the U.S. House of Representatives in October 2021. The legislation remains in limbo, but if passed, it would expand the benefits provided by Medicare for home healthcare services.

    The act would also increase the opportunity for remote monitoring and telehealth nursing services for senior citizens. Seniors could choose to go home rather than a nursing facility after hospitalization.

    As home healthcare expands, experts are calling for greater standardization in the industry. They point out that license requirements vary across states, making applications at the federal level next to impossible.

    Industry leaders are calling for standardized onboarding and vetting procedures. This would include background checks, experience, certification, and social security verification.

    3 | The Federal Government Will Regulate Nursing Home Staffing

    In September 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that, for the first time, the federal government proposed legislation to regulate staffing levels in nursing homes.

    The proposed rule would improve staffing assessments and enforcement strategies while creating new reporting requirements for Medicaid payments.

    The CMS proposes a minimum of .55 registered nurse (RN) hours and 2.45 nurse aide hours per resident per day. The proposal, which would provide $75 million for training nurse aids, would also require nursing home facilities to staff RNs 24/7.

    “There are pros and cons,” said Elaina Hall, chief quality officer at SnapCare. “Nursing homes can be challenging places to work and have your loved ones live. But there are challenges with reimbursement. From an insurance standpoint, Medicare and Medicaid don’t pay a lot.”

    According to Hall, the pros are that mandated ratios increase patient care and safety, improve the quality of care, and prevent staff burnout. However, facilities are pushing against the proposal because they can’t afford it.

    “They can’t afford to pay the staff, they can’t afford the ratios, they aren’t getting the appropriate reimbursement. They’ll have regulatory challenges, too, because now the state has to visit their site. The state has to figure out how they’d monitor, staff, and enforce this mandate. So, the rationale behind it is good, but the execution and implementation is the hard part.”

    4 | Care Models Will Experience a Necessary Shift

    Anne Dabrow Woods, the chief nurse at Wolters Kluwer Health, anticipates a necessary shift in how to apply nursing care models since the pandemic. There are two key components to how care is delivered:

    • The mode of delivery
    • The skills of nurses on the hospital unit

    “Healthcare models must migrate from traditional nurse-to-patient staffing models to a more agile one in times of crisis that facilitates flexibility and supports the best care for patients,” Dabrow Woods explained.

    While staffing must be based on patients’ care level and staff competency, Dabrow Woods proposed an improved model during crisis management: team-based with an increase in floating nurses.

    This system would allow hospitals to address hardships caused by future public health events or insufficient staffing, similar to what we face now with COVID-19. Dabrow Woods stressed the need to be flexible. A care model should always support an organization and a nurse’s ability to deliver excellent patient care.

    5 | Nurses Will Earn More

    Nurses are in an excellent position to demand higher salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for RNs is $81,220, and the median wage for nurse practitioners is $125,900 annually.

    Statista salary data shows that RN wages grew from about $69,000 in 2011 to $80,000 in 2020. These wages are expected to grow over the next ten years as demand for nurses increases.

    Additionally, hospitals have been offering signing bonuses to nursing professionals, especially in rural communities, where hospitals and resources are few. Nurses are also earning incentives such as free lodging and tuition assistance.

    Hall said nurse wages will rise due to supply and demand. Hospitals are competing with each other, vying for qualified nurses. “They definitely have to compete against each other. There aren’t enough nurses graduating from nursing schools. So that will definitely drive up wages just from market competition and supply and demand.”

    According to Hall, geographic variation is another factor that will drive up wages. In small towns, it’s hard to find nurses. In large cities like California and New York, nurses have collective bargaining and unionization.

    “And now you’re seeing more and more legislation and policy changes in government, driving mandated ratios,” said Hall. “All these things have an impact on nurse wages and trends we will see over the next 20 years, easily.”

    6 | Artificial Intelligence Will Influence Nursing Education and Healthcare

    According to a March 2023 report, the National Science Foundation is investing in AI research and education to improve equity in education via AI-augmented learning.

    The report states that ChatGPT can generate mock patient interviews and other simulation cases as an interactive learning tool that nurses can use.

    In addition, AI’s ability to automate assessments and grading saves nursing educators time, helping them avoid the burnout that has driven many nursing educators from the field. But AI is more than chatbots.

    “To the common person, they think of ChatGPT and robots, but that’s not really what it is,” said Hall. “In hospitals and clinics, they have clinical decision support. They have different tools that monitor blood sugar. A lot of people wear Apple watches with apps that monitor their heart rates; back in the day, people used to have to wear Holter monitors.”

    Western Governors University (WGU) reported in July 2023 that AI has influenced nursing since the early 1980s by revolutionizing the nursing profession through predicative modeling and assistive robotics, among other innovations. According to WGU, artificial intelligence can potentially revolutionize various healthcare practices, including:

    • Patient charting
    • Wound care
    • Patient transport
    • Patient education
    • Medication administration

    7 | Healthcare Staff Well-being Will Be a Top Priority

    Earl Dalton is the chief nursing officer at Health Carousel, a workforce management solution company. He believes the mental health of nurses and healthcare staff is a top priority and trend in the coming years.

    “The pandemic has acted as a wake-up call for health systems and providers to center nurse well-being in our practice and leadership,” Dalton said.

    Factors that contribute to the nursing shortage include stress, traumatic experiences, and burnout. Organizations employing nurses must place the mental and physical well-being of their staff as a top priority.

    Solutions may differ depending on the team and organization.

    “We have a great opportunity right now to truly address healthcare tensions and enhance well-being for those who have committed their lives to serving others,” Dalton noted.

    By fostering a healthy work environment, organizations can ensure that staff operates at their best. Healthy and supportive work environments can result in positive patient outcomes, helping organizations fulfill their mission to care for others.

    8 | Retaining the Nursing Workforce Will Be Prioritized

    As a result of the nursing shortage and poor working conditions, nurses are prone to stress-related illnesses, especially burnout and moral injury.

    The International Council of Nurses (ICN) reports that 76% of U.S. nurses reported high levels of burnout and exhaustion in 2020 due to increased workloads and a lack of personal protection equipment (PPE).

    Cultivating resilience and supporting nurses’ mental health is often cited as an important strategy to help combat nurse burnout and protect patient safety.

    However, burnout is largely caused by the environment and how people operate within their environments. So, hospitals and healthcare organizations carry the responsibility to improve work environments by prioritizing nurse wellness retention.

    “We knew there was a nursing shortage and that many nurses were already feeling stressed and overworked,” Dabrow Woods said. “COVID-19 has only brought this problem to the forefront.”

    Nurses are exhausted, morally injured, and burnt out, with many considering leaving the profession earlier than they normally would, Dabrow Woods explained.

    Dabrow Woods stressed how healthcare organizations must make efforts to foster resilience. A significant trend in 2024 will be restoring a safe work environment. She said another focus will be developing staffing models based on patients’ care level and workforce competencies.

    9 | Short-term Solutions to the Nurse Shortage May Impact Patient Care

    Dalton predicts that short-term solutions to the post-pandemic nursing shortage will impact patient care. He calls this the experience-complexity gap. Due to the shortage, hospitals and organizations must rely on unskilled or inexperienced labor to help meet patients’ needs.

    For example, there will be more new graduate nurses as baby boomers reach retirement age. An older patient population means a greater number of individuals with complex conditions.

    “These counter forces of limited experience and increased complexity require hospitals to remain deeply in tune with their staff makeup,” Dalton says.

    Hospitals must then ensure efficient training for all new nurses. Hospitals must also work to staff nurses with greater experience across each unit.

    Dalton warned that it would require improved training and better leadership models to bridge this gap to not affect patient care or staff well-being.

    10 | Training and Higher Education Increase in Demand

    Healthcare professionals are experts in the care they provide. As organizations struggle through the nursing shortage, it is essential not to overlook staff training and education.

    Dalton stressed that the appropriate training for each role remains non-negotiable when considering nurse placements. It is only through training and education of permanent employees, short-term nursing positions, and travel nurses that staff can stay up to date on skills. This helps increase the best care possible.

    The American Association of Colleges of Nursing promotes the preference for nurses who hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). About 72% of employers express a strong preference for bachelor’s-prepared nurses.

    Dalton said that setting a high bar for education, skills, and motivation may help “dictate better patient outcomes, ensuring we in healthcare can spend each day improving lives.”

    11 | More Nurses Will Pursue Specializations

    Specialties in nursing are growing as more nurses pursue specializations that match their career interests. When nurses specialize, they can also earn more money and pursue career advancement. Nursing informatics and nurse practitioner are two growing specializations.

    According to Lisbeth Votruba, chief clinical officer at AvaSure, virtual nursing is a growing specialization. “Virtual ICU nursing has been around for a while but what’s new is bringing it out of ICU and into the whole hospital.”

    Hall noted that “four specialties that will explode over the next ten to fifteen years are mental health nursing, emergency and critical care, nursing education and leadership, and community health nursing.”

    Other specializations nurses pursue include:

    • Oncology nursing
    • Pediatric nursing
    • Clinical research director
    • Nurse case manager
    • Nurse educator
    • Nursing manager
    • Medical-surgical nursing

    As the nursing shortage continues to disrupt the healthcare system, nurses benefit from pursuing continuous education, networking, and self-advocacy while also prioritizing self-care and personal wellness.

    Meet Our Contributors

    Portrait of Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN

    Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN

    Anne Dabrow Woods is the chief nurse at Wolters Kluwer, Health, Learning, Research and Practice. She drives the strategic development of evidence-based solutions for nurses and nursing institutions. A nurse for over 37 years, Dabrow Woods currently practices as an acute care/critical care nurse practitioner at Penn Medicine, Chester County Hospital. She also teaches in the graduate nursing program at Drexel University as adjunct faculty. Dabrow Woods earned a bachelor’s from West Chester University, a master’s from LaSalle University, a postmaster’s certificate from Drexel University, and a doctor of nursing practice from Texas Christian University. She is also a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

    Portrait of Earl Dalton

    Earl Dalton

    Earl Dalton, MHA, MSL, BSN, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer at Health Carousel, is a nurse leader who brings over two decades of experience in healthcare to his role at Health Carousel. He provides nurses the necessary training, guidance, mentoring and optimal work conditions to succeed in their profession. Dalton is a published author and speaker and sits on the Joint Commission’s Healthcare Staffing Advisory Counsel. In 2015, he received the Distinguished Nurse Administrator award from Mount St. Joseph University, and in 2021, he was recognized as a top C-Suite executive in Cincinnati.


    Portrait of Elaina Hall, RN, MSN

    Elaina Hall, RN, MSN

    Elaina Hall is an experienced healthcare executive in healthcare system operations, performance improvement, nursing practice, and leadership consulting. With a focus on opportunities for the clinician corps working with SnapCare, Elaina has expertise in health system quality improvement and supporting clinicians in their journey to reskill and upskill for professional growth. She graduated from Clemson University and extended her education in nursing earning an MBA/MSN and is currently pursuing her DNP. Elaina leads the Ventura/Santa Barbara Chapter of the Association of California Nurse Leaders and is currently a Board-Certified Advanced Nurse Executive by the ANCC and a Fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives.

    Portrait of Lisbeth Votruba, RN, MSN

    Lisbeth Votruba, RN, MSN

    As chief clinical officer of AvaSure, Lisbeth demonstrates her vision for innovative inpatient telehealth care delivery through her compassionate leadership, activism for the nursing profession, and advocacy for the dignity, safety and quality of care for patients, families and healthcare professionals.