The modern healthcare industry cannot function without technology. Nurses and doctors working in this industry are expected to familiarize themselves with various tools and techniques to keep up with advanced medical procedures. Nurses these days spend years in nursing school learning how to use the latest technological methods and equipment. A degree program in nursing now prepares individuals to deal with many technical challenges of the future of patient care.
Is it safe to say that technology has transformed nursing for the better?
With the help of technology, nurses can now minimize errors, spend more time with patients, retrieve information easily, research a variety of concepts, and improve safety. Overall, the nursing profession has witnessed a significant boost in efficiency, thanks to technology. The best part is that technology has made the nursing profession more exciting as it promotes innovation and discoveries.
An aspiring nurse must enroll in a worthy nursing degree program to learn various hard, soft, and technical skills for their duties. In addition, to familiarize nurses with advanced medical procedures, nursing degree programs encourage individuals to read nursing journals, attend conferences, participate in exercises, and enroll in higher education nursing programs.
While putting knowledge to practice may teach you all these hard and soft skills eventually, you must choose to learn the right technical skills to stand out as a nursing professional. Here are seven essential technical skills every nurse needs to learn before they begin a promising career in the healthcare industry:
1. Monitoring Vital Signs
Most advanced programs like Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner or AGNP programs value practical knowledge over theoretical and feature a flexible learning schedule. It explains why almost all nursing programs teach people to check and monitor their patients’ vital signs. These vital signs may include:
- heart rate
- blood pressure
Technology has made monitoring vital signs easier by eradicating the possibility of human error. When patient health issues are evaluated using reliable tools, they are treated better. Nurses must learn different technologies to read patients’ vital signs to efficiently track treatment and make notes of critical information to save lives and improve public health.
2. Maintaining Patient Records
Record keeping is an essential responsibility in nursing. Technology has significantly improved the way patient records are maintained and stored. Nurses must learn the various record-keeping formats to eliminate exhausting and time-consuming handwritten processes. In addition, modern nurses also learn about Electronic Health Records (EHR) – a tool used to maintain patient health history which is easily accessible to all healthcare facilities. Forget wasting time dealing with excessive paperwork; healthcare professionals can instantly record diagnostic results and send possible alerts with a few clicks. Nurses must learn about the tool to offer assistance to their superiors as necessary.
3. Operating Monitoring Systems
Technology has made healthcare processes efficient by enabling professionals to run tests and evaluations quickly, but now the process has improved twofold as automated monitoring systems have entered the picture. Nurses can easily note heart rates, measure the electrical patterns of a patient’s heart, record blood pressure, read respiration stats, and measure other essential details of a patient in care using these systems. Most hospitals now use advanced hospital beds that feature:
- Blood Pressure Cuff:
To calculate a patient’s heart rate and blood flow.
To test a patient’s blood sugar.
- Pulse Oximeter:
To measure light wavelengths that determine blood oxygen level.
- ECG + Stethoscope:
To capture heart and lung function.
- Wearables (Activity Trackers and Monitors):
To track a patient’s steps, heart rate, fall risk, and even sleep.
To study the patient’s body temperature.
To track changes in a patient’s weight over time.
4. Medication Administration:
Did you know that each patient and medication is identified with a unique barcode or serial number? Modern nurses learn to scan patient codes to study their medical history and scan prescribed medication to understand the expiration, dosage, and side effects. The information relevant to each barcode is stored in Drug Retrieval and Delivery System. The systems help the modern healthcare industry minimize life-threatening mistakes related to wrong medication or treatment. In addition, automation of these processes allows nurses to treat a patient effectively by controlling the dosage and providing relevant precautionary information.
5. Conducting Emergency Procedures
In 2018, there were around 130 million emergency department (ED) visits in the United States. Considering this massive inflow of patients, it’s hard to imagine a limited number of ER nurses being able to respond to every emergency. Nurses working in emergency rooms significantly benefit from technology as it has made treating trauma or injury patients notably easy. Nurses training for emergencies must learn to deal with technology that helps stabilize patients quickly and minimize pain. An example of such technology is the Portable Defibrillator, which allows nurses to perform CPR for a patient experiencing heart failure. There are several other modern tools and techniques nurses must understand to take immediate action in saving a patient’s life.
6. Locating Important Personnel And Equipment
Technology has given birth to real-time locating (RTL) systems that help nurses instantly track healthcare professionals and medical equipment in emergencies. Each asset is issued a local identification ID badge or tag attached to the object of interest or personnel. The RTL uses specialized fixed receivers or readers – also known as location sensors – to track the position of these ID badges or tags using wireless signals. Nurses must know how to operate these systems to identify required assets or equipment, regardless of location.
7. Alerting Hospital Staff
Alerting hospital staff and professionals in times of emergencies has also been made accessible by technology using digital alarms. Nurses can use smart alarm systems to alert relevant individuals that someone or something needs their immediate attention in a serious situation. The best part about these alarm systems is that they do not need to be operated manually. Instead, the smart alarm monitors are connected to a patient’s physiological indicators that monitor their vital signs. As soon as something abnormal is noted, the system sends an alert to the relevant medical professional and nurse for help. In addition, a traditional auditory clinical alarm can be attached to the following:
- patient monitors
- infusion pumps
- mechanical ventilators
- continuous renal replacement therapy machines (CRRT)
- heating/cooling systems
- intermittent pneumatic compression devices
- ultrasound machines/humidifiers
- blood refrigerators
The healthcare industry and technological advancements are more intertwined than ever. Almost all hospitals are now dependent on technological advancements featuring medical devices, IT systems, algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, blockchain, etc. These modern tools and techniques are designed to improve performance and success rates. It explains why nursing schools now dedicate an entire portion of their programs to teaching students the aforementioned technical skills. The healthcare industry embraces technology with an open heart and mind to give people a better chance at a healthy life.
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