7 Ways Nursing Has Changed Over Time

The role of nurses is critical in healthcare as they are the first point of contact with patients as they visit a healthcare facility. They perform various tasks regularly, from taking patient vitals to administering their medicines. In addition, they educate patients on preventing illness and providing support and care to promote health. 

If we look a few decades back, the role of a nurse was nothing more than an assistant to doctors, obeying orders without questioning anything. Today, the whole scenario has changed, and we can witness the transformations in nursing roles and responsibilities through extensive training, higher education, changes in patient care, etc. 

Changes in Nursing

The digital revolution has impacted almost every sector around the globe, and healthcare is no exception. With advanced technological interventions, the nurse’s role has become more challenging. Today, nurses are not just responsible for administering medicine to patients; they are also required to work on databases to provide complete patient information and health status. 

To get a clear picture, we will discuss how Nursing has changed over time.

  • Enhanced Education and Extensive Training


Nurses today are required to have a master’s degree to be able to pursue their career in healthcare. This is the opposite of what it used to be a few decades back when nurses had little formal education or training. It was not until the Civil War that nurse training was offered, and that too was quite different than what we see today. 

But in recent times, a variety of BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and online masters of nursing programs and certifications are being offered globally to enhance their education and provide extensive training on patient care and hospital procedures. 

Earlier, nurses were taught how to dress and treat patients during their hospital stay, but today the focus has shifted to academics.

  • Increased Responsibilities


The nursing profession today encompasses a broader scope of responsibilities. This change results from extensive training programs and enhanced education degrees that are a must today for nurses to join the healthcare workforce. In addition, through degree programs, nurses are learning procedures previously performed by physicians. This gives nurses more autonomy over decision-making for their patients. Earlier, the nursing profession was not considered respectful because nurses were seen as mere caretakers. But currently, this perception has drastically changed as nurses become more respected and take on more responsibilities in the healthcare setting. 

Also, the education system focuses on more hands-on experience for nurses to handle emergencies if the physician is not available to seek permission for medical procedures. This change has resulted in nurses being seen as qualified medical professionals instead of just doctor’s assistants. 

  • Dynamic Career Opportunities


A few decades ago, nurses used to serve in homes or on the battlefield because patients were often served more at home than in hospitals. Hospital visits were reserved for patients with severe cases with risk of death, fatal injuries, or extreme sickness. With the advent of nursing programs, the healthcare settings for nurses have changed over time. Nurses can now be seen working in physician’s offices, hospitals, military, schools, home healthcare services, or rehabilitation services. In addition, thanks to academic progression, nurses can choose a healthcare facility that is more convenient for them and suits their needs best. 

  • Changes in Patient Care


Technological advancements in healthcare have impacted the quality of patient care by making it more efficient for the patient. This creates a better experience for the patients, making certain tasks easier for nurses, and saving more lives. However, due to the lack of role-specific and communication training in the past, patients often complained of not being listened to or understood well enough, which modern advancements have changed.

  • Changes in Culture


In the early 20th century, the field of nursing was occupied mainly by females with limited medical knowledge. However, they were trained to be presentable and act respectfully. Back then, when there was a need for nursing staff, most of the workforce avoided these responsibilities due to the demanding schedules, lack of respect as professionals, and lower pay.

Today, the healthcare sector has both genders working as nurses and coming from different backgrounds and ethnicities. In addition, Nursing salaries are rising due to extensive modern training, educational qualifications, and specializations. 

Despite these changes, a nurse’s job is still demanding, requiring them to work long hours, resulting in a lack of sleep and getting very little time for their families. 

  • Specialization Opportunities


With the medical advancements and changing needs of patients, nurses can opt for any area of specialization, from dermatology and rehabilitation to the emergency. In addition, nurses who have a master’s degree in nursing can pursue their careers as nurse anesthetics, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, or clinical nurse specialists. 

Nurses can also specialize as family nurse practitioners (FNP), seeing patients of all ages, preventing diseases, and providing treatment for illnesses. 

  • Safety and Quality


Nurses spend a lot of time with patients and regularly interact with patient healthcare teams to ensure these teams provide high-quality care to patients. Nurses provide effective care which is safe and patient-centered. Nurses who perform exceptionally in their roles surely bring positive patient outcomes by decreasing hospital readmissions. 



The only constant in the evolution of the nursing profession is change. Academic progression and extensive training enable nurses to accept a variety of roles and greater responsibility in the healthcare system. Today nurses work in multiple healthcare settings, including but not limited to the military, hospitals, physician’s offices, schools, etc. Patient care is the top priority with technological advancements in the healthcare industry. The current workforce of the healthcare sector includes females and males who come from diversified backgrounds and ethnicities. Nurses provide safe and quality care to patients by opting for specialization in dermatology, emergency, and rehabilitation. In addition, they can take on the role of nurse midwives, nurse aesthetics, family nurse practitioners, or clinical nurse specialists by pursuing a master’s program in nursing. 

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