Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nursing Meets Instructional Technology (An Experience to Remember)

My oldest son recently tore his ACL. It was obviously a very disappointing experience for him as he has worked so hard this summer to be sure he got some play time on the varsity team and from all indications of the coaches it looked like he would. This past Wednesday he went in for surgery. This is certainly a tough experience for any mom (not to mention the son who is actually getting cut). When they took him to the holding room to give him the sleepy juice his dad and I were allowed to go back with him. What I saw back there intrigued me, excited me, and affirmed my career choice in a way that little else could have. As you can imagine in the holding room several patients are waiting to be put under for surgery meaning that several nurses and an anesthesiologist were on hand. What caught my attention were the computer stations on wheels they were rolling around instead of paper charts. A nurse in her mid-forties initially began attending my son. I overheard her say that they were no longer allowed to use paper charting and had to input all the data into the new computer system. Curiosity got the better of me and she was a friendly nurse so I began asking questions. How did she feel about the computerized system? Did it speed up or slow down the process? Did she find the system user friendly, and did she feel that the overall implementation created a more efficient, effective medical process? Her responses to these questions were disappointingly negative. She then told me to question the doctor on his feelings regarding the new computerized method. His responses were very positive. He is late 30’s early 40’s in age. He spoke very highly of the equipment and what it meant for the efficiency and effectiveness of the utilization of the equipment. It was really comical that the entire time the doctor was providing his input the first nurse stood behind him shaking her head no. Eventually the first nurse and doctor moved on their way. A few minutes later a second nurse walked over to where our family was waiting in the holding room and very quietly said “I do not make this known but most of us like the new system”. I asked her what her birth year was and what do you know it was after 1980. This is significant based on Marc Prensky’s data regarding digital natives versus digital immigrants ( See,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf). The second nurse preferred this new computerized method for charting patient information and all other details entailed in her job. The sad fact was that due to pressure from older nurses; likely in positions of authority, she felt the need to hide the fact that this was indeed her preferred method of facilitating her job functions. From my perspective multiple things are happening here. The first interesting fact that crossed my mind is the convergence in the workforce of workers who are now from two significantly different worlds having to find common ground to effectively carry out their assigned duties in a manner that allows co-worker congeniality to continue to persist. The second interesting fact was that a gap in preferred methods for carrying their prescribed job functions is present and capable of creating a dysfunctional workforce due to dis-satisfied frustrated employees who prior to the influx of technology in the workforce coupled with the lack of adequate preparation as well as the unwillingness of employees to embrace change with a positive attitude; instead (as nurse number two stated) digging in their heels in an attempt to hang on to more familiar ways that do not force them out of their comfort zone. The third and most important fact that this entire experience brought to mind is that integrating technology into current instructional curriculum is no longer an option but a must. We can no longer accept from veteran teachers or brand new teachers statements like; "I’m just not comfortable with technology", or "I’ve been doing this successfully for 30+ years and plan to keep on doing it; or most importantly “I just can’t learn that”. Accepting that in education is like continuing to operate on patients using the same techniques used in the 1300’s, or washing our clothes on washboards instead of in washing machines, or even ironing our clothes with coals instead of an iron. Successful societies depend on progress and the willingness to embrace it. As educators we expect our students to walk into our classrooms with open minds and willingly digest all of information we desire to give them. This is a great expectation as long as we as educators are willing to accept the fact that as educators our own education can never cease, and that since the primary function of education is to prepare students to be productive members of a modern society we must be prepared to arm ourselves with the necessary skills and ability to effectively educate them. Learning is on- going, not something that ends when they place our diploma in our hands, and we must be willing to continue doing so. True educators are not in it for the money but for the intrinsic reward that comes with knowing that we have played an important role in preparing tomorrow’s generation of learners for a society that we can barely conceive today. This simply means we as educators must willingly continue to educate ourselves and force ourselves to grow and stay one step ahead of today’s learners. The career affirming portion of this discussion came when I realized that what I was witnessing in play before my very eyes is the world that today’s students must walk out of high school equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle in an effective, efficient, positive manner. Not only does instructional technology provide an undeniable means of student engagement it also provides the undeniable skill set that will benefit students for generations to come. Education must remain at the forefront of society and the demands thereof in order to best serve the needs of society that students are being prepared for. Personally, in-spite of the circumstances involving my son, this was a very exciting experience for me. It made me aware of the fact that not only do the new Common Core State Standards demand the integration of instructional technology in a meaningful manner; society as a whole demands that we provide our current students with the necessary skill set to be successful not only nationally but internationally as well.