The world seems to change significantly every day, with new technology systems designed to revolutionize our lives being announced all the time. While these innovative new ideas don’t always pan out, the entire world is experiencing new challenges and new triumphs all the time. These naturally impact the care we need as well as how that care is delivered.
As a result, nurses must always be ready to adapt their techniques or approaches on the fly as new policies come into effect and the tools used in healthcare change. Nursing leaders make that change possible and unite their teams even in times of great change and unexpected challenges.
This article explores the evolving role of nursing leadership in modern healthcare and how they navigate an ever-changing technological landscape. We’ll also take a look at what the future of nursing looks like and what we can expect moving forward.
What Do Nurse Leaders Do?
There are many kinds of nurse leaders with a variety of responsibilities, but there are some that tend to hold true across all job descriptions. First and foremost, nurse leaders are responsible for managing their nursing team, meaning they must delegate, empathize, organize, and lead their team through whatever the medical environment throws at them. They are the people who go between frontline staff and management when issues arise and are first on the floor when something goes wrong. Managing teams with interprofessional team members is another of their potential tasks and requires detailed knowledge about the relationship between all involved departments.
Because they are usually responsible for managing their nursing teams, nurse leaders are often involved in hiring new employees, providing performance reviews, scheduling shifts, and training employees. Mentoring new team members is another of their important tasks.
Nurse leaders are becoming increasingly important in the healthcare industry as the use of complex technology becomes more widespread. From providing training to identifying potential compliance issues and ensuring that patients are treated safely, nursing leadership is crucial to ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for both patients and nurses.
How Nursing Technology Helps Patients
You might not immediately envision nurses when asked to picture technological savants, but the future of healthcare is rooted in both emerging and ongoing technologies. Healthcare robots, for example, are taking the industry by storm and are quickly becoming indispensable in the healthcare workplace. Two of the biggest benefits of advanced technology in the healthcare industry include lower healthcare costs and improved patient outcomes.
Lower Healthcare Costs
Ask almost anyone in the country, and you’ll hear stories about the high cost of healthcare in the United States. The reason for this is the astounding amount of money the country spends on healthcare. The national health expenditure in 2021 was around $4tn. This averages nearly $13,000 in healthcare expenses per person. Many patients find it hard to stay on top of their medical expenses.
Luckily, change might be on the horizon as medical technology is poised to change the way we think of healthcare. Assistive medical robots are used to streamline many tasks, making them quicker and easier to accomplish and, in turn, lowering the amount of money that needs to be spent on them. Surgical robots, for example, are especially useful when it comes to saving money on procedures for hospitals and patients alike.
Nursing assistive robots are equally helpful, making nurses’ lives easier by lifting patients, responding to critical health events, and monitoring vital signs. All this makes their jobs more streamlined and ensures that their attention is focused on the crucial tasks at hand, translating into savings for everyday patients.
Improved Patient Outcomes
Another reason that medical technology is so important is the increased level of care patients experience when they use it. Nurses often have to be everywhere at the same time, and no matter how good they are at their job, it can be difficult to find the time to respond to every patient quickly. That’s why innovative technology is so important in the medical industry. With the right kind of technology, nurses can automate some of their jobs, allowing them to respond quickly to crises.
Equally as important as giving nurses more time to work with patients who need extra care, technology can provide patients with more comprehensive care and attention. Instead of nurses being solely responsible for calming down patients and providing them with some much-needed mental stimulation, technology designed to provide social interaction can help. Moxi, for example, is a social robot that can talk to patients, tell them jokes, and respond to questions. Sometimes, all you really need to thrive is a distraction from the current moment, and technology like Moxie can help.
Finally, patients are often far more satisfied with their hospital stays or visits when they have access to innovative technology. They often feel more cared for and might be more likely to seek out important medical care in the future, thanks to a successful stay.
While the technology we talked about above is important and makes a big difference in the care patients receive, there are other options to help streamline nurses’ days. From cleaning to fetching and returning supplies, here are some of the recent innovations in nursing technology and care.
People tend to envision nurses as always taking care of patients face-to-face, but the reality is that they also do a lot of behind-the-scenes work to ensure smooth and successful hospital stays. One of the most important of their tasks is cleaning. Nurses clean things not only as they go but also when patients are out of the room. This can include changing dirty linen, for example, and sanitizing the area to help ensure healthy and happy patients.
Emerging technology makes it possible for nurses to judge the cleanliness level of the items they use as they go. Detecting fluid or other debris on a surface is one example. This kind of technology can also gather soiled garments and bedding and take them directly to the hospital’s laundry department. Not only does this allow nurses to spend less time cleaning and more time providing face-to-face care, but it also reduces their contact with potentially infectious waste.
Recent technological developments have also made it easier for nurses to fetch supplies as they move through their shifts. Instead of moving from the floor to the storage closet repeatedly through their shift, new technology can actually grab supplies on their behalf and take them directly to the nurse, wherever they might be. Organizing storage is yet another task nurses work on, and the same technology can help here, too. Instead of spending time tidying up the storage area, robotic technology can help. Robotic technology can also take inventory and alert nurses when supplies are running low or are unexpectedly missing.
Moving patients often falls to nurses and can lead to injury if something goes wrong. One of the biggest things technologies can do to help nurses is to transport patients safely and effectively from one location to another. From helping patients regain their balance if they slip to assisting them if they fall and even serving as a moving support to keep them steady, nursing technology designed to help transport patients in a variety of ways is crucial to the profession.
How Can Nurse Leaders Help Navigate the Changing Technological Landscape in Nursing?
Now you know why technology is important and how it can help nurses with their daily tasks, but how do nurses adapt to new technologies when they become part of their daily work life? Nursing leaders are critically important to nurses as they learn new skills and implement new devices into their shifts on a regular basis.
Nurse leaders act as intermediaries between new technologies and their nursing staff. They ensure that if nurses need additional training on a particular piece of technology, they receive that help in a timely manner.
Nursing leaders are also typically in charge of ensuring that technology is implemented completely and properly. If they see nurses taking shortcuts or otherwise not using the technology as intended, they must intervene and ensure that these compliance issues do not happen again. When used incorrectly, technology such as that designed to make moving patients safe might have the opposite impact and lead to patient injuries. This is especially important as the use of emerging tech becomes even more widespread.
Nurse leaders can help their teams stay on top of technology in other ways, too. When hiring new people, nursing leaders can look for applicants with either existing knowledge of the technology they use or the skills needed to learn them. This ensures that they fit into the nursing team quickly and easily, working as a complement rather than distracting other nurses from their jobs.
Finally, nursing leaders are often the first people trained on new technologies and often have some input on how technology is implemented in their team’s work shifts as well as identifying any potential risks the new technology might present.
How Do Nurses Develop Core Skills Related to Technology Before They Begin Working?
The best thing aspiring nurses can do when planning out their education is to invest in a well-established nursing program designed to give them the skills they need to thrive in the workplace. This includes technology-related skills that enable them to do their jobs more quickly and efficiently. Choosing a reputable institution such as the University of Indianapolis when exploring Online MSN Leadership programs is a good choice for gaining the necessary skills. Their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) provides students with 39 credit hours full of skill building, as well as ensuring students have access to 240 clinical hours of practice, which helps them to understand health informatics concepts and how to manage and lead medical teams.
If you are already working as a nurse, don’t worry — you can learn more, too! Even if signing up for an MSN program is unrealistic, there might be training classes you can take to help expand your knowledge. This includes remote courses that allow you to work full-time while studying. Completing this kind of training program can improve your skills in no time.
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to your nursing leader for information about training opportunities. You never know what kind of help is available if you don’t ask about it, so don’t hesitate to speak up. Effective nurse leaders won’t hesitate to give you the information you need about new technology.
The field of medicine is a complex one with ever-changing technological requirements and policies affecting all shifts nurses take. If you are interested in learning more about leadership in nursing and how you can improve the industry, keep the information above in mind.