Last Saturday, May 12th saw the celebration of International Nurses Day, which occurs every year on the birthday of history’s most famous nurse, Florence Nightingale. The event is intended to recognize and raise awareness of the contributions that nurses around the world make to society.
Despite the crucial role that nurses play in healthcare, nursing is facing several challenges in the United States. These include the shortage of qualified job candidates and the aging population of baby boomers, affecting both nurses and their patients.
Studies have found that many nurses are under a great deal of stress and demand while on the job. For example, nurses have a higher workplace injury rate than even construction workers: 17 percent of workers in nursing homes report musculoskeletal problems such as back injuries, while a full one-third of hospital nurses also reported job-related injuries. Nurses experience cognitive and emotional challenges as well, including chronic pain and tiredness.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 1.09 million job openings for nurses by 2024 due to growth and replacement. An increased focus on web accessibility is important in order to both expand the job pool and assist nurses during their work.
How Web Accessibility Helps the Nursing Industry
The 2017 National Nursing Workforce Study found that half of registered nurses in the U.S. are 50 years or older. What’s more, their patients are aging along with them: the number of Americans 65 and older will nearly double from 48 million to 88 million over the next 30 years. Because 46 percent of people 60 and older have some kind of disability, it will be more important than ever to accommodate the aging population of nurses and patients.
Nurses with disabilities often feel discriminated against or singled out; they may attempt to downplay the challenges they face or hide them from their employers. According to a 2014 study, “nurses with disabilities are leaving nursing because they are not valued for their knowledge or abilities and are often prejudged because of the disability.”
As the number of Americans with disabilities rises in the years to come, web accessibility can improve patient outcomes, assist nurses with their jobs, and encourage people with disabilities to enter the nursing profession. The Internet has become a vital tool for healthcare education and practice. For example, over 90 percent of physicians use the Internet to research clinical issues. In addition, more than 250 schools now offer online RN to BSN degree programs, and more than 70 schools license nurse practitioners.
Improving the accessibility of healthcare websites can go a long way in making nurses more efficient and productive. For example, providing closed captions and transcripts for educational videos can help users with hearing disabilities fully benefit from the information. People with motor disabilities may have difficulties manipulating a computer mouse, so websites should have a clear, hierarchical layout and be navigable using only the keyboard.
In support of International Nurses Day, the Bureau of Internet Access will continue to raise awareness about how web accessibility initiatives can improve healthcare for workers and patients alike. Follow the BoIA blog or contact us for more information and updates about accessibility in healthcare.