How Will the Affordable Care Act Impact Nurses?

May 23rd, 2014

All the hype surrounding the Affordable Care Act and the changes it has brought to the healthcare field have made providers worry about the effects it will have on their jobs, paychecks, and even their job security. The nursing field has always had a demand for qualified professionals but now with the ACA in effect, this demand has increased and nursing staff are in short supply. The negativity that is presented regarding this new healthcare bill is responsible for a lot of uncertainty within the medical field but in reality, there are positive aspects to the bill as well.

As a nurse, here are some of the possible impacts to your field that you may experience:

  • Nurses will be working outside of the hospitals and within the community. One of the core elements of the ACA is to increase wellness and preventative care, which means providing care to those who need it before something more serious happens and to go to the patients who need help. Nurses will visit their patients and try to help those with chronic conditions not progress in a negative way. Smaller medical offices will be taking the forefront in care and guiding the public to a healthier lifestyle in order to avoid the major illnesses.
  • Specialty nurses will be in high demand. The ACA is now providing money to support the development of nurse practitioners and for most nurses, the cost for further education was a deterrent but now, it doesn’t have to be.  A nurse who wishes to train in a specialty field won’t have to experience lost wages due to the downtime and upon completion, they will be heavily recruited.
  • Overall care is being improved. The majority of nurses work in the field because they care about others and want to help them and will go out of their way to ensure quality care is provided. These nurses are rarely compensated extra for their long hours and excellent care but with the ACA, a pay for performance program will compensate providers based on the patient outcomes, instead of the patient volume. This means a nurse can work with a patient until they have recovered or achieved their desired results.
  • The aging population is being embraced. Patients over 65 used to be dropped by their providers but now the opposite is happening and these older patients are being treated again. Doctors and hospitals are now able to train and specialize in geriatric care instead of running away from it.

The ACA has changed healthcare in many ways and for the nursing community, it carries a mixed reaction of positive and negative aspects. As the bill takes full effect and the changes remain fluid, learning how it can improve your field should be a priority to your facility. Rather than focusing on the negative or the problems it will bring, make it a point to learn the good it brings to the medical field and as with any new legislature, make it work in your favor instead of fighting the changes.

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