Keeping abreast of the revolution in technology: as technologies continue to alter nursing practice, nurses need to be ready to embrace new professional development opportunities, including electronic, website resources.
Subject: Medical laboratory technology (Forecasts and trends)
Medical technology (Forecasts and trends)
Nurses (Practice)
Professional development (Methods)
Professional development (Technology application)
Author: Brinkman, Anne
Pub Date: 11/01/2010
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Nov, 2010 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 10
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 010 Forecasts, trends, outlooks Computer Subject: Technology application; Market trend/market analysis
Product: Product Code: 8043100 Nurses NAICS Code: 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 243451591
Full Text: Technological changes are guaranteed to be challenging as we grapple with their ongoing implications. We can choose to face these challenges head-on, or let misgivings block the adjustments and learning needed to absorb new skills and knowledge.

Technologies will continue to alter nursing practice. Co-founder of Proteus Biomedical in the United States, Andrew Thompson, has developed what he calls the Raisin System. (1) This involves having a one-millimetre-square Proteus chip embedded in pills, turning them into "networked, digital drugs". The Proteus chip is activated by a patient's stomach fluids and sends a signal to a band-aid-sized computer worn on the body. The computer uses Bluetooth wireless technology to communicate with the patient's mobile phone, which alerts patients (or their caregivers) when they forget their medicine. How many medication "incidents" could this system potentially save with such accurate tracking? In turn, this monitoring could help reduce avoidable hospital admissions. The computer also has an accelerometer to monitor physical activity and skin sensors to record heart rate, and can even contact a health professional if problems develop. The system has been tested in trials for drugs that treat heart failure, hypertension, tuberculosis and other diseases. Proteus Biomedical has filed for several hundred patents and is actively exploring new frontiers.

To keep up with this technological revolution, it is even more important nurses have access to appropriate professional development opportunities. (2) These should be flexible enough to include electronic, website resources. (3)

One person who is meeting this need in the United States is online educator Salman Khan. American philanthropist and entrepreneur Bill Gates recently paid tribute to Khan after visiting one of the 1630 tutorials Khan has created for his You Tube site of the Khan Academy. (4,5) Khan is a 33-year-old Generation Y-er who is taking internet education opportunities down new routes. One tutorial that took my attention was on red blood cells, impressive in its accessibility, clarity and focus. Plus, being 16 minutes long--and able to be paused or reversed to accommodate individual learning needs, including speed--helps with absorbing what is being learned.

Time-limited online learning programmes

Khan's initiative began in response to an out-of-town cousin who needed maths help and whose schedule didn't match Khan's own. This prompted him to formulate a way to augment her knowledge base through accessible, time-limited online programmes. Word of mouth took the idea forward and now over 70,000 hits are made daily to his website, with over 18 million page views being logged to date. It's news to baby boomers like me! The Khan Academy is an exciting concept and well worth exploring.

Khan was recently interviewed on National Radio about his new education methods. Historically, he said, lectures have been delivered in 50-minute slots in order to make the best use of the learners' and teacher's time at a designated hour. (6) Having choice about when, what and how one learns is empowering. The Khan Academy is a brilliant, evolving example of what might lie ahead for nurses, as we explore and refine the possibilities through these new electronic media.

NZNO was recently notified about the www. website, which, following two years' development, offers a variety of courses to nurses. It is American-based, so is naturally imbued with that cultural perspective. However, many of the principles on the website are relevant to New Zealand. This site includes a disclaimer the learner must agree to before proceeding with their own learning. The disclaimer clearly places the responsibility for any learning on the learner's shoulders. This is contractually understandable, and probably reasonable, too, on a philosophical basis. After all, reaching out to a global market can only mean that different countries (let alone different hospitals) will have practices and resources that have been adjusted to their own processes and budgets. The set up and language used on the website will inevitably mean some adjustment for New Zealand nurses wanting to use it. Mitigating these risks (of misinterpretation, misapplication) might well be reduced for nurses through accompanying discussion groups and feedback, including critical evaluation by specialist practitioners. We need to explore the best way forward to augment the skill and knowledge base of interested nurses who are keen to play with this medium, while enjoying improving their learning.

Assessing the value of websites

How can we help move these ideas forward for nursing? NZNO's colleges and sections are capable of providing expert advice on the content of websites relevant to nursing practice. Given the ongoing changes in the health sector, the content of websites must be carefully judged and applied. Our preoccupation with evidence-based practice can cut across the art of nursing in the pursuit of guaranteed, predictable outcomes. (7) We need to take this professional development discussion further and think hard about equipping ourselves appropriately and affordably.

It is timely nursing education is now under the spotlight and being considered and discussed by the Nursing Council, nurse educators and leaders, as well as Health Workforce New Zealand. NZNO is hosting forums in 2011 with the purpose of finding the best way forward nationally for nursing education and development.


(1) Kharif, O. Innovator: Andrew Thompson. Bloomberg Businessweek. b4196045go2582.htm. Retrieved 15/10/10.

(2) Nursing Council of New Zealand. (2010) 1,83,html/ProfessionalDevelopment). Retrieved 15/10/10.

(3) Brinkman, A. (2010) Clarifying Nursing Education Funding Issues. Wellington: NZNO. fileticket=ImrgekzvAI4%3d&tabid=179.

(4) You Tube. (2010) Bill Gates talks about the Khan Academy at Aspen Ideas Festival. Retrieved 15/10/10.

(5) The Khan Academy. (2010) Retrieved 15/10/10.

(6) Saturday Morning with Kim Hill. Radio New Zealand National., sat20100911-0835-Sal_Khan_YouTube_tutor-048.mp3.

(7) Isaacs, D. & Fitzgerald, D. (1999) Seven alternatives to evidence-based medicine. British Medical Journal; 319,1618.

By NZNO professional nursing adviser Anne Brinkman

* For a report on the recent world congress on medical and health informatics, see p29.
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