Staff Nurse Jobs – What Does It Take To Succeed?
For many aspiring nurses, staff nurse jobs are often the first step on the career ladder. A staff nurse is essentially the initial grade of a qualified and registered nurse and has employment opportunities in a range of hospital ward settings. Before progressing to a higher-ranked role like senior staff nurse, or specialising in a specific field, it is important to understand what it takes to be successful as a staff nurse in the modern healthcare field.
There are a variety of core skills, aptitudes and characteristics any staff nurse must effectively exhibit in their role – from clinical knowledge to decision making, compassion, patient advocacy and critical thinking. And, whilst each year administrative bodies like the RCN update their standards for nurse competence, these foundational values tend to remain more or less the same.
However, it has become increasingly evident over the past few years that the state of healthcare, and nursing, in particular, is changing. With more innovations in medical technology and automated data systems, the way that nurses are being expected to work is changing. Today, in order to successfully apply for staff nurse jobs – or indeed any professional role in the healthcare industry – individuals must be adaptable and able to effectively utilise new technologies to improve patient care at all levels.
How technology is improving staff nurse jobs
Technology has certainly been under scrutiny in recent years among healthcare professionals and regulatory bodies. There is much debate around whether tech innovations are indeed a help or a hindrance to medical care.
A recent Nursing Times roundtable, however, showed that many nurses – both newly-qualified and experienced – are welcoming the opportunities technology offers with open arms. The roundtable brought together a panel of healthcare experts from across the country, who sought to discuss the vital question:
Can technology, and the data it gathers, help nurses offer safer, better, more efficient care?
For some time, certain sectors of the healthcare community have voiced concerns that increased use of technology by nurses would create a barrier between nurse and patient, distracting them from their caregiving role. However, the roundtable’s discussion of existing implementations suggests that the reality is quite the opposite and that effective use of technology could empower staff nurses to succeed.
One of the main challenges for a staff nurse in a busy hospital ward is managing a demanding and ever-changing workload. Any successful staff nurse must be able to effectively manage this workload throughout their shift. This can involve keeping tabs on countless elements – which patients need assistance, where they are, which colleagues are available, where they are, and what equipment or medication is needed. Combine this with severe staff shortages and you have a working environment that has the potential to become disorganised very quickly.
However, the roundtable showed that the introduction of mobile technology to facilitate staff nurse jobs actually increased efficiency and workload management. Nurses were able to quickly see which colleagues were the closest to a patient in need of help, and who was best equipped to respond appropriately, meaning that patients had shorter waits for care, and nurses were able to more comprehensively prioritise their tasks throughout each shift.
Another key area in which the use of technology assisted staff nurses was in relation to tracking resources. Every staff nurse needs to be able to intelligently manage the healthcare resources patients need, effectively distributing them across the ward. Previously, this could prove tricky, with a lack of funding meaning that many wards were low on supplies, making it difficult to determine their whereabouts.
But now, many pieces of medical equipment are GPS chipped, meaning that nurses can use their tablets to determine where the devices they need are quickly and reliably. This prevents them from having to leave patients for long periods of time to search for items. Similarly, with online drug charts, nurses are able to simply click a button to send a message to the pharmacy to tell them that more drugs are required, rather than running around departments to find them.
As with any healthcare role, ensuring patient safety and privacy is a top priority for staff nurses. You might assume that patient safeguarding could be at risk with increased mobile technology onwards, but it’s quite the opposite. Today, risk assessments are easily viewable on hospitals’ data systems, and nurses can easily access these as they are working, rather than taking time away from patients to complete paperwork. The more nurses are familiar with the technology and data they use, the better trained they will be when it comes to ensuring patient data is protected.
Teamwork skills are, of course, integral to all staff nurse jobs. Being able to communicate effectively, collaborate helpfully and, where necessary, lead peers, are all fundamental elements of nursing competence. Once, there were fears throughout the sector that nurses using mobile computers would reduce teamwork, making each nurse insular, but this couldn’t be further from the case. According to the roundtable respondents, multidisciplinary working and discussion is already being improved by the use of technology, largely because every member of staff now has access to the base-level information they need.
A staff nurse encounters patients of all backgrounds and abilities, with a wide range of conditions and needs. On the so-called ‘front line’ of medical care, staff nurses must be able to make confident, informed decisions about patient care on a daily basis. Once, this might have involved consulting a senior nurse for every moment of uncertainty, but with much of the necessary information now available through technology, this process has become far more streamlined. Nurses can now check medication dosages and diagnostics using their devices, read nursing blogs and download apps to further facilitate their career.
Lightening the administrative burden
A key area where technology is addressing a vital need is on the administrative side of nursing. The use of AI and other technology is predicted to free up around £12.5 billion per year and give nurses more time with patients by automating administrative tasks. So-called ‘bedside robots’ could do everything from communicating patient notes and processing prescriptions to helping patients eat food, do rehabilitation exercises, and make more accurate diagnoses of diseases like pneumonia, breast and skin cancers, eye diseases and heart conditions.
Whilst the introduction of ‘bedside robots’ may be some way off, the present findings show that technology is becoming increasingly indispensable for staff nurses. As one participant of the Nursing Times roundtable stated:
“It’s just changed everything we’re doing, and it has definitely given us more time to spend with the patient. Initially, when we first moved over, you looked around and every nurse was looking at the screen and not really looking at their patient, and now, a few years down the line, we do have much more time for patients.”
To find out more about how nursing technology such as the Nursco App could help you find staff nurse jobs that are right for you, contact us today on 020 3954 1917.