By Sheena Jones. (Sheena is an LPN in training to be an RN at Dutchess Community College, Poughkeepsie, NY.)

'Technology Then and Now'/iLoveButter, via Flickr

So I’m sitting at home on a rare day off and I get a phone call. It’s the supervisor trying to locate one of the many devices each staff member has to sign in and out at the beginning and end of each shift. The hospital I work for uses bar code scanners, wireless computers, PDAs, and Vocera badges. These things are supposed to reduce errors and in general make the jobs of staff members easier. Once I get to work I feel like I have to put on a utility belt to carry all of these devices.

With all of these machines to think for me, I wonder if all of the schooling I’m enduring to go from my LPN to RN is obsolete. Yes, compassion and empathy can’t be taught or replaced by technology. But sometimes it seems to me that a technology-savvy teenager could do much of this job, as long as she could stomach the visuals at the bedside. I remember studying night and day for an exam about calculating medication dosages, only to discover that the computers give the exact dosage and that drugs come from the pharmacy just as they should be given.

Maybe we are a little bit dependent on technology. You should see the mass panic when there is an electrical surge. Nurses often waste time finding computers on wheels (affectionately known as “COWs”) that have a full battery. If they’re not charged or there’s not enough charge to go around, very few people get any work done until power is restored.

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