Is Technology Good for Nursing?


Is Technology Good for Nursing?

Exploring the profound impact of advancements in health care

By Beth Nash, RN, BSOL, MBA(c)
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When I started my nursing career back in 1984, the phrase “nursing technology” would have been considered an oxymoron, like “chillingly hot” or “miserably happy.” As a student you wrote out care plans and took all of your tests with a hefty supply of pencils and notebooks. The trustworthiness and limited availability of pencils and erasers was a nail-biting part of state boards, as was the eight to 12 weeks that it took to get your results in the mail.

Nurses in the hospital or clinic setting wrote out manual nurses’ notes, and physicians depended on a much more limited range of tools to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. The MRI was just receiving its FDA approval, and the computer was just beginning to be utilized in larger facilities. But it was large, slow and cumbersome, so the typewriter was the tool of choice for documents and reports.

As I write this column today, I am sitting at the airport, armed with my laptop, on my way to interview for an assignment involving computerized monitoring for the laboring obstetrical patient. I am constantly amazed at the rapid changes in technology in the workplace for nurses today, as well as the resiliency and adaptability required to adjust to these modifications. Technology has affected the things we learn, the way we learn, the places we work and the manner in which we care for our patients.

Is technology always good? Some nurses would argue that too much emphasis on the technological aspects of nursing has limited the time involved in direct patient care. However, few would disagree that many of the newer technological advances have saved lives and have offered an increased quality of life to innumerable patients in the last several years.

In this column, we will look at technology and nursing and the profound impact these advances have had in our profession. We will explore recent technological developments and how they impact you’ we’ll investigate job opportunities that have been created, as well as frustrations that we all face as we attempt to adapt to rapid-fire changes in the workplace. I will introduce you to some developments that are still in the planning stages, as well as review some changes that have not been very well received. We will walk through a simulation lab together, explore careers that have recently become available through technological advances, and examine how the computer — and especially the Internet — has impacted continuing education for all of us.

Oh, it looks like my flight is boarding. Won’t you join me? I have a feeling that this is one ride you won’t want to miss!   

Beth Nash, RN, BSOL, MBA(c), has been a registered nurse since 1984. She currently works at Regional Hospital in Jackson, Tenn., as a contracual subject matter expert for Medsenses, Inc., and as an educational consultant for Clincical Computer Systems, Inc.

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