The Solution For the Nursing Shortage? More Technology.

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by SaraE67 SaraE67, BSN (New)

A fictional story of innovative technology that can improve the nursing profession

Can technology help the nursing shortage?

The Solution For the Nursing Shortage?  More Technology.

The nursing profession has to learn to work smarter and create innovative technology to decrease time-consuming, burdensome tasks. The increasingly hectic pace of stress and workload decreases professional nurse satisfaction. Also, the entry into nursing has also been inconsistent and schools are faced with a shortage of professors to lead the way. Below is a fictional story of how technology can improve nursing education and care, and consequently alleviate the issues contributing to the nursing shortage. 

A Perfect Morning

I walked into the lavender-infused breakroom and poured myself a coffee from the automatic gourmet coffee dispenser. I just had to touch ‘Sara’s Java’ on the screen, and the perfect brew poured out into my favorite mug. I sat down on a comfy couch in the sunny and bright break room to peruse my 4-patient medical surgical assignment before greeting the night nurse for a report. I look at the interactive screen and see our charge nurse just clocked in, and I touch the screen to send a big smiley face emoji to all the staff on shift today. 

I log into my nursing tablet (only once for the whole shift!) to carry with me to document assessments, medication administration, and communications with the healthcare team. I schedule my lunch break on the device, where my device will be locked, and scheduled tasks equally divided among the other nurses online so I can have an uninterrupted lunch. I then order my meal on the device to be delivered right before my scheduled time. I am ready to start the day. 

Julie greets me with her infectious smile and says those magic words every nurse wants to hear: “This is a great group, everyone is alert and oriented!” She then details the plan of care for each patient at the bedside. Luckily, I have only one discharge today. I bid Julie good day, as she closes out her device, which automatically clocks her out for the shift. 

Morning Tasks Redefined

I start my morning rounds. Each patient is wearing the new Vitality Patch, which is a hypo-allergenic patch applied to each patient when during admission to our unit. The patch wirelessly transmits vital signs and telemetry information into the chart. The vital sign information is color-coded on my device: green for vitals within normal limits, yellow for slight variations in vitals, and red for serious changes needing intervention. Next, as I perform physical assessments on each patient, I explain each assessment to the patient. This interaction is captured by voice-recognized software, and the assessment is entered into the appropriate sections of the EMR. All I need to do is to verify the information and validate it to ensure complete and accurate charting.

The doctor has signed the discharge order for my patient, Mrs. Giggles, and I am notified by a buzzing on my device. The provider has already sent the prescriptions, which have been delivered via drone to the bedside. The patient’s interactive screen will review the discharge instructions, and I just have to verbally confirm that the patient understands the instructions. If not, I will provide additional education. Our electronic tram will pick her up to take her to her husband, who is waiting in the car outside. I wave to Ms. Giggles as she steps into the tram and enthusiastically thank all the staff who cared for her.

Our hospital was the prototype for driverless trams, which are powered from medical waste, for patient transportation. Safety measures with cameras and voice-activated interventions are included. This reduced our need for people to transport the patients. The displaced transportation staff members have been trained and promoted to ancillary staff positions such as CNAs, surgical technicians, and respiratory technicians. The system has a 100% safety record, even with critically ill patients. 

I then start my morning medication pass. I notice Mrs. Friendly has an Intra-Body antibiotic ordered, as she was admitted with a foot infection. She does not have the access device in place, so I start the procedure. Intra-Body devices are a new invention that replaces intravenous applications. The device connects to the patient with a small prick and has a special infusion pressure that spreads the medication evenly, producing a better effect than the old-fashioned IV. The patient experiences much less pain than during the IV placement, and there is no chance for infiltration or extravasation. Ms. Friendly also has a host of labs to be monitored. I take a small vial of blood from her fingertip with the new Universal Pipette Tube (where a few drops of blood is all that is needed for all labs), and send the sample to the lab. I make sure the medication is infusing, and head to the next room.

Next, I enter Mr. Congenial’s room and he states his usual pain medication does not seem to be working. I ask a few more questions, then query if he would like to try some new interventions. He is up for a change, so I begin some healing touch maneuvers on his lower back. I explain his positioning and decreased exercise may be the cause of this unusual pain, but I would let the doctor know as well.

I further explain to him that our unit closed for a week, and our entire unit went on a  Cruise to learn acupressure, reiki therapy, and therapeutic massage. We obtained a special certification to practice these alternative therapies. As a result, by applying the techniques to our patients, we reduced narcotic pain medication by over 75%. Mr. Congenial says he feels much better and does not have the groggy feeling he usually experiences with his pain medication. I shoot the provider a quick text about the pain, interventions, and patient response. 

My device rings, and I see the notification that Mr. Nice has a CT scan ordered. I hear the tram coming to pick him up, and I walk to his room to let him know the plan. However, his interactive screen in the room has already alerted him to the ordered test and played a quick review of the procedure. He stated he hit the green checkmark after watching the video indicating he understood and did not have any further questions for me. This, in turn, was documented in the patient education record with the care plan updated. 

A Fresh Look At Nursing School

My CNA, Joe, has reviewed and validated all the vital signs from the Vital Patch system for the morning and completed his other tasks. We sit down for a minute to review his Nurse Master Plan work. Joe is in the universal nursing program and I am a mentor, so I can check off skills on his Nurse Master Plan. “The Plan,” as all the nursing students call it, is the new way nurses obtain licensure and degrees. Mentors check off skills, which can be done as a paid CNA. Students write papers, complete assignments, and take tests during their days off from work. Artificial Intelligence software adjusts the learning plan in real-time for the students going through the comprehensive program. 

Joe had difficulty grasping the concepts with the Intra-Body Device and had to spend a few extra days before he was able to move forward with the program. Student nurses can finish school at their own pace and gain intentional clinical experiences based on their specific needs. The professors and others going through the program meet weekly for reviews and discussions. When the program is completed, the student has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The NCLEX test is built into the program with the AI software, so that is the final step of completion when the program is finished. This new system solved the issue of the shortage of nursing professors. It also created a systematic and universal path of entry into the field of nursing.

Gosh! It was a pretty busy morning, and I can see my lunch has been delivered. My device grows dim, and the breakroom is calling me for a refreshing repast. I will be able to return to my patients after having an interruption-free break, knowing my patients are being cared for during that time.

This is a fictional account of how a technological shift can change the future of nursing practice. Comment with your innovative ideas!

References

Nurses' Experiences of Busyness in Their Daily Work

Nursing Faculty Shortage in the U.S.: Has a pandemic compounded an existing problem?

SaraE67

Sara E., BSN, RN-BC has over 25 years of experience as a bedside nurse.

2 Articles   9 Posts

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5 Comment(s)

No Stars In My Eyes

Specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN. Has 43 years experience. 2,783 Posts

Sounds amazing. It would take a lot of time to set up and get running, for sure. The only thing I wonder is...what if the computerized system tanked?

SaraE67

SaraE67, BSN

2 Articles; 9 Posts

So true!  I guess in my perfect world, there would be no downtime or computer glitches 🙂

 

feelix

feelix, RN

290 Posts

The author completely overlooked the inevtable cut in nurse force that will take place because management will feel that due to an easier workday, only nurse will be enough to take care of the entire floor. We will be back to square one.

The root of the problem is management greed and the solution is to stop treating nurses as an expense.

SaraE67

SaraE67, BSN

2 Articles; 9 Posts

My intent with the article was to write something light-hearted to address my annoyances with burdensome tasks in the workday.  But thanks for reading my article and I hope you are having a great day!

Julius Seizure

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care. 1 Article; 2,280 Posts

I got to the part where the night nurse said, “This is a great group, everyone is alert and oriented!”, and immediately though "Who would want that??"

I definitely belong in the ICU!