Everyone in the healthcare field knows that the one constant in our profession is change! Nothing is constant. This includes changes in legislation and regulations as well as the ever-developing technologies. Annually, we see new trends emerge.  Nursing professionals are generally exposed to the most change as they are the ones who are working in the front lines of patient care.  The following are current trends that will no doubt impact nursing in 2017 and beyond.

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New options in nursing specialties.  There is never a shortage of new specialties for nurses to consider as they manage their career, but as changes occur in the world, it is inevitable that there are new areas of expertise and experience needed to usher in the changes. Two in particular are on the leading edge for the future of nursing:

  • Genetics Nursing – More and more is being learnt about rare diseases and debilitating conditions through genome sequencing. This is a hot-spot of current research and transformational research will ultimately require support from clinicians and nurses who have specialised skills in the field of genetics.

  • Stem Cell Technology Nursing – An increasing amount of research is currently being conducted into the beneficial aspects of stem cell technology in the treatment of multiple diseases, as well as many cancers. Soon, nurses with specialized skills and training in stem cell technology will be in great demand in care facilities as opposed to their current limitation only to research facilities.

  

 

Robots to Assist, Not Replace.

There has been a great deal of discussion around using robots to alleviate future nursing shortages. However, a short-term goal is for them to be used to supplement the nursing workforce, not replace them. There are research projects worldwide which are developing a variety of applications which will enable robots to be integrated into the healthcare setting.  For example, in Japan, a robot has been developed as an assistant to lift patients from beds to wheelchairs in order to reduce lifting injuries. Another robot developed in Belgium is an automated triage nurse. It can take a patient’s vitals, and updating the patient’s medical records and history. Another is designed to perform housekeeping tasks and take vital signs for patients who are contagious because of infectious diseases.

More Medical Device Technologies.  Current developments in technology are forcing nursing professionals to become more tech-savvy every year and 2017 is no different.  There are some technologies that are now a reality.

  • GPS Tracking. How often have you found yourself wasting valuable time in the unit tracking down a needed piece of equipment? Tracking chips are being embedded into equipment and integrated with an “in-house” positioning system so they can be located instantly. This will save nurses the bother of having to look for much-needed items. The same concept is being applied in elderly care situations, where patients have wearable technology that tracks them no matter where they are in the care facility. This is great from a care and safety aspect.

 

  • Wireless Patient Monitoring.  The constant retrieval of data is increasingly being performed by wireless devices. This technology has even migrated to the actual patient beds and mattress pads where weight, blood pressure, pulse rate, sleep patterns and more are constantly being transmitted. The collation and utilization of this data alerts nurses to any number of changes to a patient’s health status.

 

  • Intelligent Alarms.  During a hectic shift, the constant alarms that are activated can be confusing and stressful. In this field, new technology using “intelligent” alarm notification can discern which alarms need immediate attention and which ones are less critical. The proliferation of patient monitoring technologies and data collection allow for this layered approach to alarm notifications and responses.

 

Holistic Nursing: Back to the Future.

As the focus on alternative health care continues throughout the world, many nurses are following the trend and choosing to treat it as a specialty practice.  The main driver of the alternative care revolution is the renewed focus on wellness and the prevention of disease. Holistic nursing includes examining the total mind, body and spirit approach to patient care.

The National Institute of Health published an analysis of Holistic care in January of 2017 which found that nurses who are educated in a traditional allopathic approach are not familiar with the concepts of holistic care. Today, holistic nurses are integrating their approach with modern methodologies to enhance their overall level of patient care.  Many holistic nurses are also specializing in alternative approaches such as the use of natural products (Herbs, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics) and mind/body practices including Yoga, Tai Chi, Osteopathic Manipulation, Meditation and Deep Breathing.

What are your thoughts on what is next in the field of nursing?  What has been your experience with emerging technologies or new approaches to patient care?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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