Throughout history, new technologies have always sparked legitimate fears that some jobs will be radically changed or eliminated due to innovation. The telegraph, the telephone, the tractor, the steam engine, the internet, robotics, artificial intelligence — each of these developments has brought some form of change in the job market, the viability of particular professions and skills, and how things get done.are-the-robots-coming-for-my-nursing-job

When it comes to nurses and the nursing profession, innovative technologies might give us pause to consider what nurses do, how they perform specific tasks, and if the profession might stand to lose something.

While medication-dispensing robots, telemetry, electronic fetal monitoring, artificial intelligence, and other technological advances have altered our work as nurses, fears that robots will replace us and send nurses into the historical career dustbin are likely unfounded. New opportunities are being created as nurses embrace emerging technologies and become educated and trained in valuable 21st-century skills.

The Human Touch

Nurses are the most trusted profession in the United States because they touch patients literally and figuratively daily. The trust between nurses and their patients is born mainly from the human-to-human interactions that make nursing a compelling combination of an art and a science.

No matter how efficient a robot may be in doling out medications and how powerful artificial intelligence and machine learning may become, the absolute humanity of nursing care would be impossible to replace with a machine entirely.

The physical assessment of a newborn, the expression of empathy, and the practice of hospice nursing are just three areas that come to mind where the human side of nursing care is so utterly crucial. While an immersive virtual or mixed reality application could be utilized to educate a patient about dialysis or provide basic diabetic teaching, no application can take the place of a nurse sitting on the edge of a patient’s bed, holding their hand, and providing emotionally intelligent supportive counseling as the patient mentally prepares for surgery.

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The human side of nursing is the art that maintains the sacredness of the nurse-patient bond. Nursing may be partially driven by plans of care developed within the parameters of the nursing process, but where the rubber hits the road is where person-to-person interaction informs the patient experience and the nurses calling.

Nursing Embracing Technology

Rather than considering how technological advances might cause nurses to be replaced by machines, the more likely new reality is that of nurses embracing technology in the interest of their careers.

Nursing informatics has opened new career paths for nurses interested in computers, data management, and analytics. Nurses who master their facilitieselectronic medical records can make themselves invaluable as super users capable of training other nurses and staff in using an EMR.

Nurses pursuing masters and doctoral degrees in informatics can pursue previously closed opportunities, including positions such as Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO). For nurses who can find such opportunities, companies creating new bedside technologies and digital interfaces will need skilled clinicians who can act as consultants on testing devices and applications that have yet to be ready for prime time.

The Robots Wont Be Replacing You

Although science fiction could tell an entirely different story, the reality is that we wont be seeing autonomous robot nurses speeding from room to room, providing hands-on patient care without ever needing a break for dinner or the bathroom, at least not anytime soon.

Rather than considering how the robots may be coming for your nursing job, perhaps it’s best to focus on how you can embrace them and leverage these new developments to the advantage of your nursing career.

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Are you a nurse fascinated by data? Do you have strong computer skills? Would you like to earn a higher degree and be involved in deciding how new technologies will be used in a clinical setting you care about?

Dont worry — the robots wont be rolling into town next week to staff the ICU. But if you’re a nurse wondering how the tech revolution could revolutionize your nursing career, there’s much to learn and new opportunities just around the corner.

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Keith Carlson
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