Advancing technology has become part and parcel of nursing and healthcare in the last several decades, and with the pace of change and innovation increasing exponentially, there’s obviously no turning back.
So, if we can all agree with the basic premise that technology and innovation are here to stay in the healthcare arena, then we also need to agree that, in order to remain valuable and flexible within this technological paradigm, we nurses need to remain relatively current with the changes as they happen.
While there still may be some facilities out there that use paper charting, the numbers are dwindling. Personally, I currently work for two homecare agencies that use paper charting, but these agencies are more like dinosaurs than ever before, and, in my opinion, they can’t continue down this path forever if they want to remain competitive and relevant in the 21st century.
The Perceived Age Gap
Some younger nurses intimate that older nurses are the ones who are consistently resistant to change and unwilling to embrace new technological developments. However, the evidence that I see does not support that opinion. Many nurses who have been in the profession for decades have always had to accommodate a changing healthcare landscape, and while there may be some seasoned nurses who don’t like what’s happening in relation to technology and automation, most of us need to roll with the changes in order to remain employed. By now, we’re pretty much all used to the notion that things will only continue down this road of technological development.
Patient Care and Technology
When we consider patient care, technology has been altering this landscape since the days of Florence Nightingale. From changes in syringe technology to the development of telemetry and long-distance monitoring, nurses have had to roll with the punches.
In some facilities, nurses bring laptops or tablets to the bedside in order to document care, and they may even send information or questions to the physician over private institutional digital networks.
And in home care and hospice agencies, nurses bring laptops and tablets to patients’ homes and communicate remotely with the office over DSL or wireless connections.
Meanwhile, robots have replaced many physical pharmacies for the distribution of medications and the counting of controlled substances, and we all know that this–like all technologies–can have its pluses and minuses.
Change is the Only Constant
Like most other sectors of society and the economy, healthcare and nursing are bound to continue to be impacted by technological advances. Like I said, there’s no turning back.
So, of there is indeed no going back to how things used to be, we nurses each have to ask ourselves if we’re resisting the changes on some level, and how we can leverage our knowledge, skills and willingness to learn new skills in order to truly remain relevant, important and valued in an increasingly networked world.