January 7, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
New technology in healthcare is also creating numerous exciting and challenging opportunities for nurses. More and more aspects of the profession have become electronic, from test results and blood work to X-rays and even ordering of medication. With a wide variety of new technologies including mobile devices, teleconferencing, cloud computing and electronic medical records becoming more commonplace in the healthcare space, nurses cannot afford to be digitally unaware.
Even basic everyday medical instruments are getting smarter, forcing nurses to stay abreast of latest developments not just in medicine but also in technology. For example, new bandages that are now being used for heart patients are designed with state of the art built-in sensors that help measure vital signs. Nurses need to know not just how to use these bandages but also how to manage the output of these bandages. In the emerging field of nursing informatics, nurses will soon be expected to work together with technology developers to make these systems more practical and easier to use in the workplace.
Amidst all of this, patient behaviours are also undergoing tremendous changes in a digitalised world. More and more patients are using online resources to research and learn more about their ailments and how they can manage their symptoms themselves. Statistics indicate that health and wellness have consistently been among the most searched-for topics on Google. Unfortunately, not all information available online is accurate. To help their patients make the right decisions, nurses will need to double as health technology librarians, steering patients to reliable websites and useful applications.
Besides being on top of all things medical, nurses need to be culturally smart too. Hospitals have become cultural melting-pots and while doctor-patient time is usually limited, nurses deliver hour-to-hour care and interact more personally not just with the patients but also with the families of patients. This requires patience and tolerance along with the ability to listen and understand people from all walks of life without judging.
Nursing has become more complex in ways that nobody could have imagined even just a generation ago. However, even as nursing continues to evolve with innovative new gadgets, new hospital structures and cultural challenges, the heart of the profession stays the same. No matter how hi tech the technology it will never replace traditional care.
Also, whatever the tools and technologies are put to use in the workplace, a nurse’s primary job will remain that of a caregiver and advocate for the sick and vulnerable. Where they do make a difference however, is that they make it easier for nurses to deliver more efficient healthcare to patients.