With All the Changes in Medical Technology, What is the Future Outlook for Someone Considering the Field of Nursing?

Technology is exploding everywhere; it is especially evident in the medical field. How will the ability to diagnose illness electronically and treat it robotically affect the outlook for nursing jobs?

What is the Current Nursing Career Outlook?

The aging Baby Boomer population means more people are seeking healthcare and long-term care. In addition, the Affordable Healthcare Act (ObamaCare) has the potential to make healthcare available to more people than in the past. Medical and nursing schools have not been able to turn out enough qualified graduates to supply the need for personnel so these professionals are in short supply. As a result, the job outlook for nurses is good.

How Is Technology Changing?

Most disease risks and health conditions have a genetic element. New technologies can predict these conditions and recommend treatment. Robotics makes precision surgeries and minimally invasive treatment possible for patients, lowering healthcare costs. There is even the possibility of 3-D printing of transplant organs using organic materials. Still, these technologies do not change the fundamental tasks of nursing:
• Assessment
• Planning
• Intervention
• Evaluation
• Education
• Support
• Documentation
• Communication
These tasks must still be performed, but under new parameters. One new technology, for instance, monitors patients’ blood pressure and alerts the nurse if it falls outside normal readings. This means the nurse does not have to keep checking vital signs when they are normal. The equipment, however, cannot interpret the meaning of the elevated blood pressure. It cannot tell if the reading is high because of an argument with a family member, pain or fluid overload. There will always be a need for human contact and reasoning. Still, the technology saves hundreds of steps daily. Another technology that saves steps is a program that tracks and locates medical equipment. Since the average nurse walks more than six miles in a twelve-hour shift, this is important.

How is Nursing Changing to Meet the Needs of Technology?

Nursing education is morphing. More schools are offering classes working with the new systems. Many degrees now combine nursing and communication systems management. As more new technologies emerge, there must be people trained to utilize them. Technicians alone cannot provide the human contact necessary in the treatment of illnesses. Nursing degrees now feature more specialization because technology has introduced new machines that can treat a wider range of illnesses than before. Innovative branches of nursing are evolving. One, informatics, integrates nursing and technology to help acquire, store and utilize massive amounts of data.

Additional Resource: Would I Need a Degree in Nursing and Computer Science to Become an Informatics Specialist?

What is the Outlook for Nursing Jobs in the New Technology

The outlook for all medical jobs is good, although growth rate for registered nurses has flattened a bit. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the expected growth rate for all nurses through 2022 is 19 percent. In contrast, nursing informatics is expected to grow by 34 percent. The average salary for that specialty is more than $84,000.

Nursing is responding to technology growth by educating its graduates to understand and work with new systems. In addition, new nursing careers are emerging. The future outlook for jobs in the field of nursing is bright. Even with innovative technologies, there will always be a need for human contact and reasoning.