Celebrate National Nurses Week 2016!
Editor's note: In celebration of National Nurses Week we asked a variety of nurses, ranging from our team members, clients, and social followers to share their thoughts on a wide range of nursing issues. In this blog post, our own Halley Hoefs explores the impact on technology and patient care.
Ch…ch...changes in clinical careBack in January of this year, it dawned on me that I have been a nurse for “over a decade” now. I thought about how things have changed in the hospital during this brief period of time, especially in technology. Interestingly enough, a few months back at HIMSS, I found myself chatting with another nurse who works in health IT about the implications of technology in nursing. She and I both agreed on one thing: that there is this perception that the “computer” is supposed to let the nurse know how to practice. She shared with me that each week she is flooded with requests for a new “practice alert.” And the one thing we both agreed on is that it seems that many nurses just aren’t critically thinking anymore. The days of assessment, viewing lab values and vitals, as well as the patient’s overall appearance have been replaced with the expectation that a software program will tell them what is wrong with their patient. The counter argument, I suppose, is that nurses are required to use the technology and they might as well leverage all the functionality it has. If that means better patient care and outcomes, then the pain of documenting by exception is worth it.
Technology can aid, but never replace the care of a clinician
To that point, I have even heard some nurses say, sarcastically (I think and hope), that it’s only a matter of time before nurses are replaced by computers. But, the last time I checked, a computer cannot hold the hand of a dying patient; wrap arms around a scared parent whose child is critically ill; wipe tears; offer encouragement; and last but not least, it cannot save a life. But what technology can do, is it can validate your sixth sense and help guide your practice so that you can do all that the computer cannot. So my thought for Nurses Week is this: while technology brings wonderful things to healthcare, there will never be any level of technology that can replace the human factor. More to the point, no technology can replace the important role a nurse plays in patient care. Do you agree?
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