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From electronic medical records and patient self-tracking to informatics and minimally invasive procedures, healthcare is getting more and more high-tech. Here are some ways technology makes things better for patients, and nurses.

1. Tech-based Specialties


How Nurses Are Using Technology
Technology is making medicine more efficient, and the more tools and gadgets that get developed, the more skilled medical professionals we need to operate them. If you consider yourself tech-savvy, you may want to consider specializing in one of these areas of nursing:

 Informatics Nurse


Also known as Nurse Informaticist, these nurses help manage, interpret and communicate vital medical data flowing in and out of doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities. Informatics Nurses usually work in the information systems department of a healthcare organization and are skilled in computer science, information technology and nursing science. As an Informatics Nurse, you can also work to develop medical technology, or train other nurses on the latest systems.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Incorporate information technology in clinical settings
Perform research based on clinical data and trials
Work with information systems to help patients manage their own health
Work in biosurveillance, outbreak response and electronic lab reporting
Develop storage and analytic technology to optimize data for research

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Behind-the-scenes
Managerial
Research-oriented

Cardiac Care Nurse


Cardiac Care Nurses treat patients suffering from heart diseases and conditions. According to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in US. 1.5 million heart attacks occur each year, and nearly 80 million Americans suffer from heart conditions, and the number of cardiac patients continues to rise. As a Cardiac Care Nurse, you can help a wide variety of patients, from children to the elderly, in surgical or ambulatory settings.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Stress test evaluations
Cardiac and vascular monitoring
Health assessments
Electrocardiogram monitoring
Care for patients who have undergone bypass, angioplasty or pacemaker surgery

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing

Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse


Cardiac catheterization is the insertion of a catheter into a chamber or vessel of the heart. It can be used as a way to diagnose heart conditions, or as treatment. Cardiac Cath Lab Nurses assist doctors performing these procedures. As a Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse, you can specialize even further in coronary catherization—procedures that involve coronary arteries, and take place in state of the art labs. In this specialty, you’ll have the opportunity to work with the latest technology in cardiac care.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Assist with angioplasties, valvuloplasties and stent placements
Help implant pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibillators (ICDs)

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing

Perioperative Nurse


Sometimes called a Surgical or an Operating Room Nurse, Perioperative Nurses care for patients before, during and after surgery. They work alongside surgical teams to make sure that patients are receiving the best possible care, and serve as liaisons between the surgical team and the patients’ families. As a Perioperative Nurse, you’ll help patients with recovery immediately following surgery and teach them, and their families, about at-home postoperative care.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Interview and assess patients on the day of surgery
Monitor patients and coordinate care during surgery
Maintain a sterile operating room during surgery
Give patients recovery tips for home

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing

Plastic Surgery Nurse


Plastic Surgery Nurses help patients undergoing plastic surgery or recovering from procedures. They work directly with surgeons in the operating room where procedures range from small and elective, such as dermabrasion, to more complicated procedures like facial reconstruction or breast replacement after a mastectomy.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Work with surgeons
Prep the surgery room
Explain procedures to patients

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Structured
Patient-facing

Dermatology Nurse


A dermatology nurse helps patients through the treatment of wounds, injuries, and diseases of the skin. They also perform skin cancer and post-plastic surgery treatments. Dermatology is a huge field, and because skin is an organ like the heart and kidneys, it requires specialized care.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Screen for skin cancer
Perform chemical peels
Treat burn victims
Conduct research

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Structured
Research-oriented

Radiology Nurse


A Radiology Nurse cares for people undergoing radiation treatment, getting ultrasounds and MRIs, or receiving radiation therapy for cancer. They also make sure that patients are mentally and emotionally ready to undergo medical procedures. This field is especially exciting for those who love technology, as these nurses are constantly being exposed to new and innovative medical equipment.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Insert IVs
Monitor patients during procedures
Ease patients’ concerns about treatment

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Structured
Patient-facing
Research-oriented

Telemetry Nurse


A Telemetry Nurse monitors patient’s vital signs with an electrocardiogram or other life sign-measuring device. They usually provide care to patients with gastrointestinal diseases, heart failure, diabetes, and other acute diagnoses. Most often they work in hospitals or other clinical facilities.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Give medication
Operate heart monitors and other life sign devices
Communicate with patients

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Structured
Patient-facing
Independent

Transplant Nurse


Transplant Nurses help patients donate and receive organs. They prepare living donors for transplant procedures and inform them on any risks involved in the donation. Living donors are people who volunteer to donate organs and tissues like bone marrow, a kidney or even a portion of their liver. Transplant Nurses also care for patients who receive essential organs, such as a heart or lungs, from deceased donors. As a Transplant Nurse, you can assist the medical team during surgery and work in post-operative care, monitoring patients for complications like organ rejection.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Take medical histories
Order lab tests to confirm an organ match
Clear patients and donors for surgery
Monitor patients’ vital signs after surgery

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Patient-facing


Nurse Anesthetist


This Advanced Practice nurse gives anesthesia and anesthesia-related care to patients before, during, and after surgery. Nurse Anesthetists need to be prepared for a wide variety of situations, which is why the career path to becoming a Nurse Anesthetist is an intensive one. It’s also why Nurse Anesthetists are among the most in-demand, and highest-paid, of all nursing professions.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Operating Room care
Outpatient procedures
Emergency Room care
Pain Management
Epidurals

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Multifaceted
Structured
Independent

Genetics Nurse


A Genetics Nurse helps patients with or at risk for diseases related to their genetics, diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. These nurses perform risk assessments and analyze the data found. A career in Genetics Nursing can be very rewarding, you’ll help patients and families better prepare themselves for the potentially harmful diseases that run in their family.

THINGS YOU'LL DO:
Analyze patient’s genes
Educate patients and families on their genetic risks

YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS:
Structured
Patient-facing
Research-oriented


2. mHealth: Nursing + Mobile


mHealth, or mobile health, is a term that seems to be taking over. From an in-home tracking system that speaks to a caregiver’s mobile device, to a USB-based ultrasound probe that turns a smart phone into a low-cost imaging platform, mobile is making healthcare more efficient than ever. Here are some highlights of mHealth:

Vein Finders
2.7 million venipuncture procedures are performed in the U.S. every day, but too often it takes too much poking and prodding to find that elusive vein. Now, new technology and portable vein viewers are making veins more visible, saving a lot of pain and problems for both patients and nurses.

Telemedicine
Hospitals around the country are adopting robotic platforms that allow doctors to communicate with the nursing staff and manage patient care, remotely. Many facilities are also using teleconferences, smart phones, and remote access systems to get in touch with specialists around the country, and the world.

Downloadable Drug References
Nurses no longer have to lug around three-inch thick reference books to have the information they need on hand. Free, downloadable drug references, and full PDA versions, allow RNs to carry clinical info in their pockets on their smartphones and tablets.

Class Podcasts
Many nursing schools are offering podcasts of their lectures complete with video clips, so students can access them on the go and attend class from anywhere.

Track, Manage, and Remind
New apps for smartphones and tablets are helping patients track their health, manage chronic diseases, remind them to take medications, and get more out of their doctor appointments. This technology is also being used to extend healthcare service to underserved areas of the country, and the world.

3. Tech Facts


How Nurses Are Using Technology
Here are some numbers that show how important technology is to the profession:

42% of U.S. medical facilities use electronic clinical documentation.1

2% of U.S. medical facilities use completely electronic medical records.1

48% of nurse informaticists work in hospitals.
Of those, 52% report to the IT department and 32% report to the nursing department.1

71% of nurses in the U.S. use smartphones for their job.2

66% of nursing students in the U.S. use smartphones for school. 2

1. Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) analytics
2. Survey conducted by Wolters Kluwer Health’s Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW)

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