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Technology and Nursing: The Role of Nursing Informatics

technology nursing informaticsTechnology continues to scale globally in every sector, and healthcare is no exception. From online job applications and software/computerized orientation education to electronic patient charting, technology is already a key component of healthcare even before the nurse gets to a patient’s bedside.

Technology and the Generation Gap

As healthcare continues to become more intricate and demanding, it is important that health care centers establish a strong, competent nursing team that works cohesively to provide patient-centered care. But this is not a very easy process, considering that today’s workforce comprises four distinct generations with a diverse age-group: traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X, and generation Y. Each age bracket offers a unique set of traits, values, and work views, and while the older generations (traditionalists, baby boomers, and generation x) were required to mentor the new, novice nurses, technology has changed the scenery.

Everyone acknowledges that advancement in technology in healthcare is necessary to streamline and hasten the process of information retrieval. The generation Y nurses are already comfortable and tackling technology with gusto, but many older nurses feel undermined and intimidated by the new requirements that involve electronic medical records, significant use, and other technologies in the workplace.

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To help them become more technologically informed, empowered, and healthy, these seasoned nurses have to call on the expertise of the younger generation. So, the tech-savvy nurses are taking up a mentoring role to ensure smooth implementation of new technologies in the workplace. By mentoring their co-workers, the younger staff members feel valued, more respected, and self-assured. Seasoned nurses respect and appreciate the technical expertise of generation Y, and are more willing to exchange their knowledge for mutual growth.

Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Healthcare: Nursing Informatics

Technology in healthcare is advancing rapidly as government incentives encourage institutions to implement and upgrade medical electronic records. A traditionally humanistic art, nursing is being pushed into a technologically dense atmosphere, which may become a stressor for the seasoned nurses. For nurses to stay ahead of the curve, some registered nurses are opting to specialize in IT and convert to nursing informatics, whose roles include:

  • Nurse communicators – work hand-in-hand with other nurses to assist in the implementation and training of computer programs, and also identify and attend to computer system needs
  • Nurse programmers – they write, modify, and upgrade computer programs used by nurses
  • Nurse managers – administer or manage information systems
  • Nurse vendor representatives – demonstrate systems to prospective customers

Healthcare facilities are opting to work with nurse specialists as opposed to IT professionals, because they have knowledge or experience with the nursing practice. But you cannot simply get training in nursing informatics without first completing nursing training, since informatics is a nursing specialty.

IT is an inevitable part of clinical care, and nurses need to prepare for the changes. They need to be flexible and open to what is coming, remain educated on changing trends, and work with professional organizations and their co-workers to adapt to the new demands.

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