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HealthMay 13, 2021

Evolving nursing trends: Technology in 2021 and the effects on nursing students

By: Heather Swift, MSN, RN
Technology changes constantly, the healthcare industry included. What are all the ways technology is changing the nursing education path as a whole?

A few notable technological advances in healthcare would be the implementation of electronic medical records, patient accessibility to their own medical records, medical devices such as guided bedside IV placements and automated IV pumps as well as the advancement of telemedicine, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What technology is specific to nursing education?

What technological advancements do educators need to implement into our curriculum to better prepare new nurses?

We live in a world with technology everywhere - phones, social media, and a plethora of applications and games. Can additional technology integrated into curriculum actually serve to benefit a nursing education program? Absolutely - even beyond the standard in-class jeopardy, PowerPoints, or video options, there are new and beneficial technologies to use!

Technology has already proved beneficial in healthcare with telehealth and the remote monitoring of patients, but how can we leverage the same technology to help remedy the nursing shortage and better prepare new graduate nurses? By looking at those advances from a different perspective, we can adapt current technology for the nursing student.

Learn where you live and take advantage of today’s technologies

Distance learning combined with online games, podcasts, virtual simulations, remote monitoring, and webinars to assist in the learning process puts a focus on the personal responsibility of education - active learning. Integrating available technology will help reach more students in more areas, helping reduce the nursing shortage! Additionally, remote education could be a cost-effective option resulting in the traditional brick and mortar building being utilized less often and the student saves money on gas and car maintenance. Everyone wins.

Using educational technology, a nursing student can complete a series of virtual escape rooms following a patient from EMS through the ED triage and finally, admission to an acute care unit. The student would complete an admission assessment, document electronically, monitor the patient’s vital signs and other hemodynamic values on remote monitors, review laboratory value and imaging reports, participate in SBAR reports between departments and lastly, anticipate the patient. If correctly built, the escape room can also mimic a code or a deteriorating patient for the student to work through. A virtual debriefing can and should follow the escape room to allow for application of concepts, questions, and a nonjudgmental discussion of what went well and what should have been done differently.

Introducing new technology into nursing curriculum

Using technology in this capacity is a new and different tactic than how we have historically educated nurses and prepared them for their careers. It can initially be time consuming, but different doesn’t mean it's wrong or bad. Technology in healthcare is meant to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and make life easier on the user. New nursing graduates must be proficient in technology and be willing to learn new technology regularly in order to be successful in the new healthcare landscape.

Introducing technology in this capacity within nursing academia will better prepare our students for the "real world" of nursing. It will not happen overnight and will take learning and some trial and error on the faculty side. However, once technology is integrated into a course the students not only become more engaged, they also can take responsibility for their own learning, resulting in greater retaining and understanding of the knowledge and concepts.

Heather Swift, MSN, RN
Expert Insights Contributor for Wolters Kluwer, Nursing Education
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