From the moment that nurses begin studying for their degree, they will find themselves relying on various technical solutions to help them. Technology is an important component of medicine and always has been. However, many people underestimate the extent to which tech is transforming nursing.
There are a plethora of apps out there that are designed specifically for nurses in training. These include digitized reference books and interactive guides to the human body. Of course, these aren’t particularly advanced pieces of tech, but they have proven transformative as far as the experience of training to be a nurse is concerned.
- App-assisted learning: It used to be that if a nurse wanted to look up the appropriate dosage of a drug to give to a patient, they would have to dig out a physical reference book for doing so. These days, there are telenursing apps that provide the same information, some apps even enable nurses to simply say aloud what it is that they want to know, and the app will tell them. We’re so used to having apps that are able to do everything that a smartphone is capable of, that this probably seems unremarkable. However, some of these apps make for absolutely fantastic learning tools, far surpassing the traditional methods.
- Digitized reference books: Some people will swear blind that digital books are just not the same as the ‘real thing’. We’re not going to get into that debate here, but one thing that we will say is that digital books have at least one huge advantage over a physical book. Namely that you can search through a digital book, well, digitally. It is much quicker and easier for nurses to find the information that they need in digital reference books than it would be if they had to look up the information manually. This difference might not mean life and death very often, but it does mean that nurses are able to free up more of their time for more important tasks.
- Audiobooks and online lectures: Learning is one of life’s great joys. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your particular subject of interest is; there is something that is just innately pleasing about learning about subjects that we care for. The internet is a phenomenally powerful learning tool, although it does have to be used with some care. As long as you are careful about the sources that you turn to for information, you will find a whole world of online lectures, audiobooks, and other learning materials that we normally associate with universities. In fact, if you look on YouTube, or even the iTunes U section if you’re so inclined, you will see that there are numerous leading educational institutions around the world who have opted to make lectures from some of their most gifted teachers freely available.
- Online studying: It’s not just revising and brushing up on their knowledge that nurses can now do online. In fact, it is now possible to study every level of a nursing qualification through an online university. There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to study online. First and foremost, it is important to know that an online degree today carries just as much weight as a traditional campus degree. Not only are many of the universities offering online degrees also established at regular universities, but distance learning is enabling many people to access education who would otherwise be firmly locked out of the system, such as single parents and those who have other commitments to balance. You can find everything, from pediatric nurse practitioner programs to accelerated BSN programs, available through online universities. Whatever specific role you want to take on within the nursing profession, there is a distance learning course suitable for you.
Once you have qualified and have begun working as a nurse, you will have to familiarize yourself with a whole host of technology that you have never encountered before. For people who are really passionate about technology, even the most basic pieces of nursing tech can be fascinating to learn about. Here are some of the most common types of technology that you will encounter as a nurse – technology that you probably won’t have encountered elsewhere.
- Wearable diagnostics: Wearable diagnostics could be transformative to patient safety in the future. In the simplest terms, wearable diagnostics are medical diagnostic devices that passively monitor patients. These devices can either be integrated into clothes, or they can exist as small devices that are easily attached to the body. These devices mean that nurses do not have to constantly move back and forth between patients in order to check on vital statistics. Instead, the pertinent vitals can be monitored passively and healthcare staff can automatically be alerted of any issues.
- Machine learning analysis of data: While there are many misapprehensions about exactly what machine learning is and how it works, one application of machine learning that we can absolutely vouch for is that it is used as a diagnostic assistant. There is already research to show that machine learning algorithms can be just as accurate as trained professionals in interpreting certain scans. We also know that machine learning algorithms can be used to find patterns in complicated data sets that are pretty much impossible the human beings to discern. Machine learning is still in its infancy, so exactly what role it will play remains to be seen. However, there is no doubt that nurses in the future will be using machine learning a lot more than they are now.
- Vein finder: Finding a patient’s vein is something that nurses need to do all the time, and yet it can be incredibly frustrating sometimes. Some patients are much harder to find a vein for than others. It’s frankly amazing that it’s taken this long, but there is now vein finding tech on the horizon that makes finding a vein in any patient a breeze.
- Nanomachines: Nanomachines are microscopic machines that are designed to replicate the work of various cells within the body. Some of these are self-assembling machines, meaning that the components are injected into a patient’s blood, where they then assemble themselves into machines.
There is no aspect of the modern nursing profession that has not been touched by technology in some way. The nurses of the future can expect to encounter new technology when they begin training and continue to find it throughout their working lives. What we’ve listed above are just some of what’s going on in this highly-unpredictable field.