Technology: Changes & Challenges – Georgie Hoddle, RN

Patient care has become more and more based on technology

Photo Matthew Waring, Unsplash

Just when you thought you could draw breath and get some rest, life throws a new challenge at you.

Having missed the deadline for the REST issue of Luke’s Journal (blame having had COVID for that!), I put pen to paper to draft an article about nurses and other healthcare workers who are constantly faced with change and challenges. These challenges often require competent decision-making about patient care, which has become more and more based on technology. Here is one such example…

From the orthopaedics and trauma ward

One day I went into work and the intravenous (IV) infusion pumps had been substituted with those from another company. The key pad was different, the line feed had a newer housing style that was not intuitive to open – “What do I press? Is there a code?” I was stressed since it was imperative for the intravenous (IV) antibiotics to go up. I had missed the in-service training for the new equipment since it had been held on my day off, and I didn’t even know it was happening. Although I had been trying to get some rest, if I’d known, I would have been able to attend. Thankfully my colleague had been able to attend, and she checked the drugs at the patient’s bedside with me. The device was reset accordingly, but the other nurse wasn’t pleased at my lack of knowledge.

How many nurses does this anecdote resonate with? What stress levels do we have to reach before we realise we have to relinquish our practice and stop struggling with technological upskilling?

Photo Matthew Waring, Unsplash

From the intensive care unit (ICU)

Shifts in ICU are mostly tech-driven and there are many screens and devices to monitor. The untangling of IV lines, drainage tubes and assisted breathing devices, etc, is considered a waste of time, as long as the labelled lines correspond to the drip bags and times and doses are correctly documented on the checklists. With this plethora of tangled lines, it is difficult to turn a patient from supine to prone, even with expert nurses watching carefully, so as not to cause obstruction or interference with the technology. Devices also have to be repositioned for easy access and resetting after having been on pause or a fluid bag changed. Then it is time for blood gases again; thank God for that piece of technology which helps us monitor, assess the patient and take the right decision on further treatment.

The last straw for my stress levels was being denied access to the tea room as my ‘casual’ swipe card was not authorised at the ICU level. My colleagues were annoyed that I had to ask for access for two breaks during a twelve hour shift. Furthermore, access to the toilets was outside the locked double doors. Although asked, I never went back. It was too stressful!

Ah, time to RESeT….

Now this technophobe nurse has finally stepped away from medical and nursing devices. She is investing prayerful time and energy to serving God by agreeing to reset her limited technoskills and striving to keep up through creative writing and book reviews. The encouragement from the Luke’s Journal editors provides that motivation. Thank you, team.

To finish

After spending  over eight years also working in aged care (both rural and in the city), in 2020 I threw in the technological towel when it comes to the field of e-learning for my profession. Much reliance is now placed on remote e-learning. For nurses, this has been frustrating since so many aspects of our hands-on work cannot be taught with a computer program. Many of the modules we have had to study and gain 100% ‘competency’ in are poorly designed, and contain punctuation and grammar errors which make them feel unprofessional.

“For nurses, this has been frustrating since so many aspects of our hands-on work cannot be taught with a computer program.”

As I have attained a Master degree in Applied Linguistics, this particularly irked me, and I sent feedback whenever it was asked for.  Frustratingly, it appeared unheeded when the following year the same module was unchanged.  Questions with ambiguous wording only confuse and annoy.  Cartoon-like style sometimes feels childish and condescending.  Modules were not relevant to actual workplaces – an aged care nurse does not work in a factory lifting boxes – nurses have a “no lift” policy!   Frustration is heightened with the inevitable computer crash, and loss of the previous attempt. Arrrrrrrghhhh!

E-learning modules are considered cost-effective for ‘training and testing’ large numbers of staff, but I am unsure if they are effective ways to learn practical skills.   God wishes us to be competent and safe in our dealings with others, especially the elderly (1 Tim.4:1-4).

Maybe there is a place for technology in assessment, but certainly not in the practicality of caring. I trust that in the autumn of my years I can rely on caring relationships and kind hearts.

More from the Georgie Hoddle: RESeT: Nurses and God-given technology

Georgie Hoddle, RN
Georgie Hoddle, a recently retired Registered Nurse, strives to work in Christ-centred initiatives. She regularly writes for Luke’s Journal and the Nurses Christian Fellowship Australia’s publication, Faith in Practice.


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