Nursing: past, present and future
This is Nurses Week. What a wonderful opportunity for us all to acknowledge the incredibly important role our nursing colleagues have in the care of our patients and clients, and to recognize their significant contribution to the strengthening of the social fabric of our caring community.
Although the origins of nursing predate the mid-19th century, the history of professional nursing traditionally begins with Florence Nightingale. Nightingale, the well-educated daughter of wealthy British parents, defied social conventions and decided to become a nurse. The nursing of strangers, either in hospitals or in their homes, was not then seen as a respectable career for “well-bred” ladies. In a radical departure from this view, Nightingale believed that well-educated women, using scientific principles and informed education about healthy lifestyles, could dramatically improve the care of sick patients. Moreover, she believed that nursing provided an ideal independent calling full of intellectual and social freedom for women, who at that time had few other career options.
Fast forward to today…
We are in the midst of a tremendous transformation of the health care and social services sector. Just about everything we have taken for granted for years- even decades, is crumbling, and at a pace that is really somewhat breath-taking. This is not a bad thing. It has been a long time coming.
Bringing our new CIUSSS to life is just one part of this transformation. However, the most fundamental of changes will be driven by technology that will permit us to effect the right types of interventions in the right places at the right time in ways we could only dream of even a few short years ago.
The excitement building around mobile health (mHealth) is increasing at an exponential rate. The technologies! The access to care! The consumer involvement! The clinician (nurse, allied health professionals and physician) tools! There are so many exciting possibilities offered by mobile health in the hospital and the community, and I think this is the next challenge and opportunity for Nursing. Most often on the front lines of patient care, nurses are the people using the technologies, facilitating the access, involving the consumer, communicating with physicians, and therefore, it’s imperative that they are directly involved in the creation of mHealth. Excluding nurses from the front-end development and deployment of technologies will result in wasted time and money, as technologies can only be successful with the early input from end users.
Although the delivery of healthcare is in a state of creative chaos in today’s healthcare delivery environment, the one facet that is consistent is the nurse. As mHealth grows and becomes the standard of practice, it will be vitally important for nurses to be engaged in the development of these new delivery models. I for one look forward with great anticipation to observe how the core values of Nursing- human dignity, integrity, autonomy, altruism and social justice, will be applied to these new challenges.