Nurses: Pull your heads out of the sand when it comes to technology.

Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Nurses: Pull your heads out of the sand when it comes to technology.

The machines are coming. Robots to assist with patients’ care exist. IV pumps can already accept orders from the electronic medical record, change a drip rate and document the event. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will eventually sift through the latest literature and determine the best evidence to inform our practice. So why are we not incorporating a technology awareness component into our undergraduate and graduate nursing curriculums?

Nurses at the bedside need to be able to have conversations with patients who have technology-based health questions and concerns. One look at Twitter and you know some patients are wondering about the health effects of 5G or the development of nanotechnology and vaccines. The public is already discussing this technology — but the conversation is the equivalent of stating you can get pregnant from a toilet seat. We need to provide accurate information. Our job as nurses is to translate complex medical topics into simple, understandable language for our patients. It’s sort-of our superpower. We need to prepare nurses to include technology as another language we translate for our patients.

Away from the bedside, we need to be grooming future leaders to build budgets that allow for innovative technologies. Today I asked a nurse leader why her organization wasn’t looking at AI to assist with patient solutions. Her answer: it’s too hard to develop. She’s not wrong. In our current climate, health organizations throw money at yesterday’s technology and then throw more money at updating it. There are rarely corporate resources allocated to building bespoke solutions to our needs. We wait for technology to create a generic, one-size-fits-all product that only partially meets our needs. For health systems to stay competitive and relevant, in-house innovators and developers may be the way forward.

Nursing academia and our governing bodies need to get on the technology train too. We need to reward research that acknowledges technology, and we need to foster innovation. Nursing governing bodies need to embrace technology and find ways to open doors, so we don’t waste time, fighting barriers and waiting for approval.

Nursing is a profession that prides itself on the nursing process…..we assess, diagnose, plan, implement and evaluate. We prepare for every eventuality: except for the inevitable progression of technology. This technological blind spot needs to change. No matter where you are working as a nurse, look up and see the technology because it’s here for the long haul.

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