Nursing Review spoke with the course director of Nursing at Swinburne University, professor Karen-Leigh Edward, about the role of digital technologies like interactive dummies to prepare future nurses for their profession.
Professor Edward said there is a high demand for tech-savvy nurses who can lead the next generation into a digital healthcare world.
NR: What do you think makes a next-gen nurse?
KE: I think the demand for nurses has never been as high as now. It is being driven by the population and the imminent retirement of older nurses. We expect a shortfall of nurses in Australia of about 23,000 by 2030. Healthcare is changing and the burden of disease is shifting.
There are more people with chronic diseases and multimorbidities. Nurses are already evolving to continue providing good quality and efficient care amidst these changes and emerging technologies. I think the future nurse will need to incorporate these digital technologies as they're increasingly affecting nurses.
What role does technology play in the future of nursing?
I think that there are many ways digital technologies are already affecting patients through nursing practice. For example, this is where nurses can provide data monitoring and education, which drives down emergency department admissions. This also includes mobile phones, particularly smartphones, with help applications which can be used by nurses offering care management, for example, for a patient whose battling cancer.
You also said there is an urgent need for digital health technology and leadership in nursing. Why is that?
The integration of technology has been predominantly driven out of the USA. But other countries and regions are expanding their digital nursing workforce. It is slow progress, but I think that we could support nurses in championing these initiatives.
In nursing education, I believe we must urgently create opportunities for our undergraduate nursing students to determine how, where and why technology fits into nursing practice.
The patients are increasingly empowered, especially by the internet and any personalised self-management approach. As a result, the profession has now reframed a nurse's interpretation of care for patients in this digital world.
What environment does Swinburne University create to train nurses? And how does it help in their education?
Our Bachelor of Nursing program uses a blended learning approach and face-to-face learning such as the clinical environment calls for. In addition, the program's third year has a compulsory course about digital technology and leadership in nursing.
We believe it will help our graduates be ready to interact with patients and their loved ones using digital technologies and be leaders in reshaping how nurses interact with patients in a digital world.
The program also uses interactive dummies. What benefits do they provide and how life-like are they?
We have learning opportunities to simulate them with high-end simulation manikins. These support the simulation of clinical practice for student learners and provide the learners with a chance to conduct nursing assessments, interventions and evaluations. Learners can also develop and refine their communication skills. They also learn in clinical settings and communicate with other healthcare professionals.
It is quite immersive for students to practice these soft and hard skills, if you like, of the practical skills to assist them in the future. I've spoken with students of nursing who have over 800 clinical placements over the three years of their Bachelor's degree.
And of course, they progress in intensity and complexity as the student advances, but in terms of our modern medical equipment and technology to support the learning of our students, we're the most staffed medical equipment technology that uses AOI, VR and other forms of digital learning.
How do nurses in training respond to these course simulations?
Our students love these clinical learning environments. During the simulations, they regularly interact with our registered nurses and their experience increases within their nursing profession. Our students have expressed very resoundingly that these experiences have been significant to their learning.
When students interact in a simulated clinical moment, they have said that that moment has stayed with them throughout the rest of the program. So the graduate students have come back and shared their experience beyond the program and mentioned these sorts of clinical learning have helped them learn the skills they needed in clinical practice.
Practical skills such as nursing assessment and in and around communication with patients in their care were very valuable. These are fundamental skills for a graduate nurse in the future.
Why do you think it's essential for a nurse to be prepared for the unpredictable nature of the profession in nursing?
The world has changed with the pandemic. We know that the sheer volume of DIY health and wellness applications, social media and commercial conservations that people are now using to support their health is vital in how we practice nursing going forward.
We need to challenge our students to extend their knowledge around the changing health reforms of patients as we go into the future towards 2030 as leaders. We want our graduates to be job takers and job makers, and leaders in their own right.
What do you hope to accomplish in educating future nurses?
We want to provide our students with an experience of relating with other professionals. We've been very fortunate that we have a department for nursing that gives us a lot of opportunities to have our students interact interdisciplinary-wise, which is authentic.
The other day we talked about clinical bedside handover and the interdisciplinary nature of the job as a nurse and how it matters for the patient. We want to achieve that experience for our students going forward.
We also have a vision of our students being immersed in workplace experiences and real-life experiences, so we support students in terms of fellowship and leadership. We also have medical technology equipment that's being developed and tested, so nurses have a higher degree of tech knowledge. So that's a massive part of our protocol and uniqueness.Do you have an idea for a story?
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