Nowadays, technological progress affects the development of almost every professional area. Nursing is one of the oldest professions, but within recent decades its concepts and ideas have been revised, challenged, and redefined. One of the factors that heat the discussion about what nursing should be like is the introduction and use of new technologies. On the one hand, technological innovations in any area are always aimed at improving performance and ensuring faster more efficient work. On the other hand, such innovations may conflict with the fundamental characteristics and requirements of a profession. When introducing new technologies, it is important to make sure that such conflict does not occur. In nursing, a debate has been going on about technology, and one of the most important concepts of nursing—the concept of caring.
The main question that Hill (2013) addresses are, “Can technology and caring coexist?” (p. 1). The reason to ask such a question is that technical aspects of nursing practice, like working with data on a computer, can stand in the way of the key aspect of nursing, which is caring. Caring is described as the essence of nursing practice and its main component (Boykin & Schoenhofer, 2014). It involves personal contact with a patient, gaining his or her trust, and building a favorable interpersonal relationship. From this perspective, any part of a nurse’s job that distracts him or her from actual patients, their desires and needs, is negative because it undermines the nurse’s caring responsibilities.
Hill (2013) writes, “As technology continues to evolve, the priority must always remain with the patient” (p. 1). However, it does not mean that nursing work cannot be improved through adopting new technologies or that technological achievements of the modern world should be neglected in this profession. Nurses’ skills in data collection, mining, retrieval, and assessment can be helpful in their work with patients. Nevertheless, the portion of technological aspects in the profession should be well-balanced to integrate caring and technology into day-to-day practice (Parcells & Locsin, 2011). Hill (2013) concludes that “[m]aintaining focus on the actual patient while integrating technology as a tool to provide safe and competent care is vital in meeting the needs of the patient” (p. 2). Technology and caring should work together to ensure the most effective nursing care.
I believe that new technologies have a lot to offer to nurses around the world but as well bring certain threats. First of all, databases and similar computer-based parts of the nursing work help organize this work more efficiently. Also, modern technologies contribute to the important area of nursing education (Vallis et al., 2012). However, if technological aspects constantly distract a nurse from face-to-face communication with a patient, such aspects should be reconsidered, modified, or possibly omitted. Good caring, to my mind, includes spending time with particular patients and paying attention to them, which should be assisted, not undermined, by the technological progress.
Speculating on the connection between caring and technology, Hill (2013) emphasizes that technology should be integrated into nursing to ensure better care, but the priority should be an actual patient. I agree with this idea. Reflecting on it, I understand that getting the hang of new technologies as they are developing will be important for my future as a health care provider. But I also hope I will never sacrifice caring for patients to technological aspects of this work.
Boykin, A., & Schoenhofer, S. O. (2014). The Theory of Nursing as Caring: A Model for Transforming Practice. New York, NY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Hill, T. (2013). Invited Editorial: Caring and Technology. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 17 (3), 1-2.
Parcells, D. A. & Locsin, R.C. (2011). Development and psychometric testing of the technological competence as caring in nursing instrument. International Journal for Human Caring, 15(4), 8-13.
Vallis, J. M., Mason, A. C., Afari-Dekyi, K., Ansotinge, E., Antwi, J., Chifwaila, L.,…& Urquhart, G. (2012). Building capacity for E-learning for nurse training in Zambia and Ghana: Appropriate computer technologies? In Appropriate Healthcare Technologies for Developing Countries: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference (pp. 1-6). London, UK: IET.