Nursing students get on the technology fast track

It's not just medical students who love their smartphones and tablets. Nursing students are catching up fast when it comes to using technology, according to a New York Times article this week. 

Nursing students at some schools now use sophisticated simulation mannequins--rather than live patients--to hone their skills, the Times reported, something they likely should expect to do more of as they move into the real world, given efforts like the Veterans Health Administration's SimLEARN program.

They're also practicing clinical procedures in the online environment of Second Life, providing services to digital patients in digital clinics. And many are transitioning to smartphones or tablets as their primary work tool, as several major nursing schools have begun to require them, according to the Times

The impetus toward technical skill-building is simple: There is simply too much information for nurses to manage by memorization. 

"There are too many drugs now, too many interactions, too many tests, to memorize everything you would need to memorize," Joann Eland, an associate professor with the University of Iowa Nursing School told the Times. "We can't rely nearly as much as we used to on the staff knowing the right dose or the right timing."

The story also addressed worries about nurses becoming too dependent on technology, losing their personal touch with patients, and mishandling private patient information. For new nurses, however, all the emphasis on technology may just make them better clinicians. For example, a study earlier this month that found nursing performance improves with access to electronic health records.

To learn more:
- read the New York Times article 

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