Since the founding of modern nursing by Florence Nightingale in the 19th century, the field has undergone many changes. These changes have helped nursing evolve and enabled nurses to provide a higher standard of care to patients. These developments have also benefited the healthcare industry in other ways, such as advancements in communications among medical professionals and data management.
Nurses are required to go through stricter and longer education programs than they did in the past. Nursing students are now required to fulfil a certain number of classroom and clinical hours to earn their nursing degrees. Today’s nursing training programs use evidence-based methods to sharpen communication, critical thinking and professional values to give students a solid start in this field.
Training courses teach aspiring nurses a variety of in-depth anatomy and physiology topics, which were not as easily understood in prior years. The overall advancement of the healthcare industry has meant that nurses must also now learn microbiology and biomedical ethics. Other nursing course topics include proper hygiene practices and the importance of protecting confidential patient information.
In-person learning inside a classroom is not the only way for nurses to get the education that they need to work. Much of the required education and training can be completed through online courses. An online nursing program in Pennsylvania, such as this one provided by Holy Family University, features 100% online coursework, so students have the flexibility to take charge of their education at their own pace.
Today, there is not just one standard type of nurse. While there are still many general nurses who work in doctor’s offices and hospitals, some nurses specialize in providing care to patients who suffer from specific medical conditions that were not widely known about in the past. Nurses who specialize in specific areas of healthcare are in particularly high demand as the need for specialty care to manage patients’ chronic conditions grows.
Some nurses assist doctors with providing cardiac care, while others specialize in hospice care to help terminally ill patients lead more comfortable lives. Maternity nurses are trained specifically to assist with baby deliveries and provide other prenatal and postnatal care services. Young patients often do better when they are treated by nurses who have received specialty training in pediatric nursing and can relate to children better. Other nursing specialties include emergency care, gastroenterology and home healthcare.
Better hygiene practices
Strict hygiene practices must be followed by nurses to give each patient the safest care possible without spreading germs and viruses through cross-contamination. Hygiene practices have been improved tremendously since the beginning of modern nursing thanks to advancements in healthcare, and nurses are now better trained in the importance of maintaining a clean setting.
Nurses and other medical service providers are expected to follow strict hand hygiene guidelines to avoid spreading germs and viruses from their hands to patients. These guidelines were developed through in-depth research that was conducted to make nursing practices as safe as possible. Some of these guidelines include the proper ways to use soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer and when exactly the hands should be sanitized.
In the past, nurses sometimes reused medical equipment in ways that often transmitted diseases that were not widely known about. Even needles were sometimes reused to inject medications and draw blood from patients. Now that medical professionals are aware of the dangers that come with using certain equipment pieces, nurses are more stringent about avoiding this problem.
Nurses today have access to technology that they did not have in the earliest days of modern nursing. Much of this technology has helped nursing evolve by allowing nurses to complete tasks more efficiently and reduce errors that often have negative impacts on patient care.
Nurses cannot be physically present in the room with each patient all the time, so monitoring technology has been developed meaning patients can be checked on from different locations. Portable monitors make it possible for nurses to check the respiration and heart rates along with other vital signs of each patient so that emergencies can be tended to faster.
Smart pumps can be used to administer and control medication amounts better. With these pumps, nurses do not have to continuously go from room to room to check on each patient’s IV, which can save them a lot of time.
Some medical facilities are even equipped with smart beds. These beds are programmed with modern technology to notify nurses of each patient’s weight, vital signs and movements in the bed so that measures can be taken to prevent bedsores and other serious injuries and health problems that could negatively impact a patient’s wellbeing.
Telehealth video technology is now being used widely by doctors and nurses to help prevent the spread of influenza, COVID-19 and other communicable illnesses that are often spread when patients go to doctor’s offices and hospitals for in-person appointments. Nurses often use this technology to communicate with patients through computers or mobile devices, and this can also help patients fit their appointments into their schedules better. Video conferencing is also used in modern times by nurses to communicate better with doctors and other medical staff.
Nurses must manage important data to ensure that all health records are accurate and stored securely. Today’s data management technology helps nurses manage these details in a more accurate, efficient manner and allows nurses to record, retrieve and review specific information faster.
Greater emphasis on mental health
Medical professionals now know that there is a link between physical and mental health, and the understanding of this connection has allowed nurses to give patients more comprehensive care. Nurses now know about the effects that depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions can have on physical health and are able to provide additional support and resources to help patients manage these challenges better. Modern nurses also use more effective ways to prevent and manage medical conditions that often worsen a person’s mental health.
Progress in nursing means more reliable care
Today’s nurses are more able to contribute to healthcare and saving the lives of patients. In addition to saving lives, nurses now have better ways to preserve the quality of life for patients because of advancements in the field. Improved education and a greater understanding of the connection between physical and mental health, along with better hygiene practices and the development of technology, means nurses are now more able to provide patients with superior care. This, in turn, results in a more reliable healthcare service overall.