The American healthcare industry is undergoing a significant transformation driven by advancements in medical technology (medtech) and changing patient needs. As a result, collegiate nursing education must evolve to equip future nurses with the skills and knowledge required to excel in this dynamic environment. It is imperative for nursing education to adapt to the evolving healthcare landscape, integrate medtech tools and technologies, foster critical thinking abilities, and provide clinical exposure to prepare nurses for success.
Modern healthcare heavily relies on a range of medtech software, including Epic, Cerner, and AthenaHealth EHRs. Telemedicine companies, wearable health devices (Apple watch, Oura ring, FitBit), and robotic-assisted surgery machines have also revolutionized the way we use healthcare. These innovations enhance patient care, improve patient outcomes, and improve communication among healthcare professionals. Therefore, nursing education must incorporate training into its curriculum to ensure graduates are proficient in their use as they enter the workforce.
Moreover, training in telehealth communication is essential to prepare nurses for remote patient monitoring and virtual consultations. Nurse educators have failed to prepare nursing graduates with the needed skills to optimize their role in telehealth delivery. This gap has left nurses without the skills needed to plan, implement, deliver, and evaluate telehealth programs. Those who are lucky to be trained in telemedicine can work virtually to provide care to the primary care, acute care, and chronic care settings (OJIN, 2021). As telemedicine is here to stay, nurses must learn how to establish meaningful patient connections and provide quality care through digital channels.
Medtech integration extends to simulation-based learning in nursing programs, offering students the chance to practice in a controlled environment. High-fidelity simulations replicate real clinical scenarios, allowing students to familiarize themselves with advanced medtech tools without compromising patient safety. Real life patient actors, medical equipment, and alarm monitors are available for optimized learning. High-fidelity simulation using manikins is an effective teaching and learning method when best practice guidelines are adhered to, and may have some advantage over other teaching methods (Cant & Cooper, 2010). Simulation-based learning bridges the gap between theory and practice, enhancing students' confidence and competence in utilizing medtech.
The evolving healthcare landscape demands nurses who possess strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Nurses encounter complex situations daily, necessitating the ability to analyze information, make swift decisions, and adapt to unexpected changes. Thus, nursing education must prioritize the development of these cognitive skills. Incorporating active learning strategies, such as case-based discussions and simulation-based learning, can nurture critical thinking abilities. This blended simulation-based education can increase nursing students' critical thinking capabilities and prepare them for their careers (Sterner et al., 2023). These approaches encourage students to apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios, fostering the development of analytical and decision-making skills. Furthermore, engaging students in critical reflection during clinical experiences promotes self-awareness and continuous improvement.
While classroom learning is crucial, clinical exposure is paramount in nursing education. Being exposed to various EHR softwares in simulated clinical learning environments for nursing students is essential (Harris et al., 2018). Being educated on these softwares during student clinical rotations help them navigate their patient assignments and document patient information accurately. To ensure nurses are prepared to effectively use medtech tools in real-world settings, nursing schools must establish partnerships with healthcare facilities that embrace technological innovations. By offering students clinical placements in technologically advanced settings, nursing schools provide hands-on experience with medtech tools and technologies. Clinical rotations should not only introduce students to medtech but also emphasize its integration into patient care. For instance, students can participate in multidisciplinary rounds where they collaborate with other healthcare professionals to discuss patient-centered care plans that incorporate medtech interventions. This exposure enhances students' ability to communicate effectively within interprofessional teams and harness medtech for improved patient outcomes.
The future of nursing education relies on its ability to adapt to the evolving healthcare landscape. The integration of medtech tools and technologies, the cultivation of critical thinking skills, and the provision of clinical exposure are essential in preparing nurses for success. By equipping future nurses with the necessary competencies, nursing education not only addresses the demands of the healthcare industry but also ensures the delivery of high-quality patient care.
Cant, R. P., & Cooper, S. J. (2010). Simulation-based learning in nurse education: systematic review. Journal of advanced nursing, 66(1), 3–15. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.05240.x
Harris, J. Y., Keller, S., & Hinton, E. (2018). Dedicated education units as a clinical rotation for nursing students: a scoping review protocol. JBI database of systematic reviews and implementation reports, 16(3), 642–647. https://doi.org/10.11124/JBISRIR-2017-003519
Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. (2021, January 1). Preparing Nurses for Roles in Telehealth: Now Is the Time. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 26(1). https://ojin.nursingworld.org/table-of-contents/volume-26-2021/number-1-january-2021/preparing-nurses-for-roles-in-telehealth-now-is-the-time/
Sterner, A., Sköld, R., & Andersson, H. (2023). Effects of Blended Simulation on Nursing Students' Critical Thinking Skills: A Quantitative Study. SAGE open nursing, 9, 23779608231177566. https://doi.org/10.1177/23779608231177566