As Published in Nurses FYI Magazine
If someone would’ve told me 13 years ago after finishing nursing school, that I would become The TechieRN, I would have looked at them like their hair was on fire. Now after doing clinical analytical work as a Nurse, for over 10 years, I really feel like I’m in my niche. Nursing was not always like that for me, in fact, it was quite difficult for me until I found what I am really good at. Nursing has changed so much since I have finished nursing school that it is often times hard to believe it is the same profession. For example, all of the charting that I did as a nurse was with a black pen and paper, but now if you mention a black pen and charting on paper, in the same sentence as charting to a new nurse graduate, they might look at you like your hair is on fire.
Because I am a Star Trek fan (Trekkie), I have always been amazed at the inventions on the show as well as just the whole traveling in space concept. In the same way; a great deal of the ideas and gadgets from Star Trek original series have already come into fruition such as the simple flip style cell phone was obviously modeled after the communicator that communicates with the Enterprise, on the series.
What about the medical side of how a series like Star Trek has affected us as Nurses?
For example, I am almost daily assisting MD’s, PA’s and even Nurses with configuring their iPhones and iPads to be able to connect to our EMR (Electronic Medical Record) at the patients bedside or from their office or home, flashback to the corridors of the Enterprise and people walking around with electronic touch pads in their hands (see its all coming true). These devices are all things easily taken for granted but look how just the invention of the iPad has changed not only the way we might round with doctors but how it has changed our lives for the good. A great deal of hospitals now use communication devices that use a lapel or just go around your neck, to communicate with each other or with other departments, with the touch of a button (remember the com badge on the Enterprise). Our hospital used these “com badges” for quite some time and we liked them and even programmed them with a sound, when a person would push the button and say “beam me up”, it would make the sound, plus give us a good laugh.
Times change and technology changes almost daily in my/our line of work, meaning now we have implemented quiet zones in our hospital, remember this is a good thing, patients are actually trying to get well, plus reducing noise such as overhead pages for MD’s and Nurses has helped reduce noise levels and help patients heal. We have actually done away with our “com badges” at our hospital now and moved on to texting each other, with our house-wide iPhone based system which has been not only a huge patient satisfier but a huge success in general. The iPhone and web based system allows the unit coordinator to text the nurse, instead of overhead paging them on the unit. Similarly, I have been reading about real life medical “tricorders” and you can actually buy them now for your home. Currently this “tricorder” will record your vital signs with help of your smartphone app, plus promises to minimize hospital admissions by sending vital information to your doctor, pretty cool technology to say the least and am excited to see what the future holds for this type of technology.
Some other advances in Medicine and to Nursing are Robotic surgeries performed which means shorter hospital stays and more precision when it comes to operations. For example; Dr. Smith who is declining in age and is thinking of not doing surgery any longer because his steady hand isn’t quite what it used to be, no longer need he worry about that because the robot has a the steadiest of any hand.
Ok so you might be wondering, so what type of Nurse am I?
I had many questions I had to answer when I first began this part of my career and one of them being “oh you are not a real nurse anymore are you?” or when other nurses would look at my name badge they would say “oh you’re a nurse too?” I struggled with embracing my new found calling at first but it wouldn’t be till later I would realize my job is just as valuable in this/my type of Nursing as “their” type of Nursing whatever that may be. No, I do not have a Masters degree in Informatics, no, I do not have any type of special degrees because truth be known, a lot of these types of “degrees” where not even “degrees” when I started my job. I am “Techie” by nature so this job was an easy fit for me and I had also taken some career placement tests as well as personality profile tests that show I am a detail oriented person, so computers fit well into my personality and career choice. You may also ask, so what exactly do you do techie nurse man, well, and I am glad you asked. I consider myself to be “jack of all trades, master of none” in my position, meaning I have to know a lot about everything but often times, know enough to get myself into trouble so to speak. My primary position is (FES) Front End Support for our 30-50 computer systems we support (I lost count). We have a call center and calls come in and then triaged to me within our ticketing system, I then try to fix the issue/problem myself or send it on to someone who can. I also do some “back-end” EMR configuration for clinical documentation side of the program, which keeps me very busy. We have others on our team, Registered Nurses, Pharmacists, Microbiologists, Project managers who do nothing but “back-end” EMR configuration, meaning building orders and order sets, building reports, testing in testing and development environments for new software and upgrades.
The way I look at Nursing now is like this; I support the nurses, doctors, PA’s, ARNP’s (you name it) with their charting issues and errors, which keeps everybody happy, and in turn I am helping them to help the patients they care for, with their health issues, which in turn hopefully makes their job easier.
Michael Srock, RN
As Published in Nurses FYI Magazine