Nursing is one of the most rewarding professions, but is also one of the most challenging and exhausting professions both physically and emotionally. Advances in technology in nursing are indeed helping to make life easier for nurses. It is good to remember that, in our high tech world, the human touch cannot be substituted. Nursing is about combining the art of caring with the science of health care.
While the safe use of technology may reduce human error, humans still need to program, input data and ensure the proper outcome. This safeguard also protects the job security of the nursing profession. Technology will not soon be replacing nurses.
Student nurses are using new, innovative technology to help them with many of basic nursing procedures such as passing NG tubes, inserting Foley catheters, caring for chest tubes and other drainage devices. This technology provides student nurses with many learning experiences they might never have in their clinical rotations. Consequently their skills are improved, but this technology doesn't provide the physical and emotional response nurses will encounter and have to work with in real world circumstances.
Wireless communication is an aspect of technology in nursing practice that helps to improve patient care and reduce physical stress for nurses. When a patient needs assistance, he calls the nurse's assigned smartphone instead of pushing a button on the call light. The call is directed to the nurse wherever she may be. This not only saves the nurse thousands of steps per day running to answer call lights; it also improves efficiency. The nurse can bring pain medication in one step instead of walking to the patient's room and then back and forth to get the medication. This saves steps and wear and tear on the body, which has been one factor in helping older nurses remain active in the field.
Bar codes on medication packaging can be compared to the patient's ID bar code for proper identification and prevention of medical errors. Of course, this technology requires correct data input of medications, dose, frequency and patient ID information. When used correctly, this technology has been proven to be effective in reducing medication errors. This helps to give nurses peace of mind that they have a strong backup system to aid them in providing improved patient care.
Educating patients is a huge aspect of the nurse's role in patient care. With smartphones and the myriad of health care related apps that become available every day, a new challenge is presented to nurses. They can assist patients in understanding the technology and information they can now access and how to best utilize that information to improve their health status.
Advances in technology will continue to assist nurses to provide quality care and improve outcomes for the patients.