Swine flu, the continuing nursing shortage, and health care reform were just a few of the hot topics in 2009 that affected nurses and nursing students.
As 2009 came to a close, Democrats and Republicans were divided along strict party lines in the health care reform debate that began in the summer. President Obama's health care plan came under swift attack by those opposed to increased government intervention in health care, while Democrats and those in support of President Obama said that current insurance practices are unacceptable, and require a more comprehensive government-led reform.
The swine flu outbreak in the latter half of the year highlighted the need for consistent communication to the public about how this version of the flu differs from the "regular" flu, and how it is spread and prevented. Nurses and other health care workers were on the front lines for many of these communication and prevention tasks. School nurses in particular were challenged with isolating students who were infected, and communicating to students and parents alike.
The nursing shortage has been acknowledged for several years now, and this year it received even more attention. Baby boomers, including nurses, are aging, retiring, and requiring more healthcare services. The recession that began in 2007, however, led many retired nurses to re-enter the job market. But as the economy picks up steam, these nurses will presumably go back to retirement, and the nursing shortage will continue.
One of the causes of the nursing shortage is a lack of nursing teachers. To address this "shortage behind the shortage", many nursing schools are expanding their nurse educator programs, or are offering nurse educator programs online.
What will 2010 bring? It's unlikely that any of these nursing stories that made 2009 memorable will be going away anytime soon. Perhaps this will be the year you move forward in your nursing career with a BSN or MSN to help address the nursing shortage or teach the next generation of nurses.