I’m Between the Patient and Technology

Mar 10, 2020

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Nurse leaders Aimee Lyons and Liz Smith have seen a lot of technological advancements since first entering the nursing profession. But something they definitely agree on – robots will never be able to replace a nurse’s interface. Read their candid conversation about leading teams of younger nurses and navigating between technology and their instincts at the bedside.

Aimee Lyons:
You know, I always knew I wanted to be a nurse. If anybody asked me, I’d always say, “A nurse, a nurse.” I thought I’d always be a bedside nurse. I kind of got thrown into a leadership position.
Liz Smith:
Same thing. If you told me I was going to be in leadership, I never would have believed you. But that’s the great thing about our profession. There are so many things that you can do. We keep saying we’re challenged with a lot of new graduates, and our workforce has changed so much, but you have to break out of that to see all their great potential. They actually know more than we do, because they have information at their fingertips that we didn’t.
Right. Some of us are still “four-finger” typers.
The nurses coming out of school today, they know technology and they can run that computer chart like nothing.
One challenge is with technology. We start assessing patients off data and off machines. We forget to actually look at the patient. You know, you can learn so much by looking in their eyes, or looking at their expression or their body, or you know they’re paler than they were the day before. There are little things that nurses know, and we have that instinct. That’s our strength, and I don’t want that to get lost in technologies.
I remember when I was right out of school, walking into a room, and I looked at this older woman and said, “Oh no, something’s really wrong.” She was struggling to breathe. She was in congestive heart failure. And we got her out of that acute episode and made her comfortable. She said, “Liz, when you walked in that door, I said, ‘there is my angel.’ I knew I was going to be safe. I was at peace.”
I feel so fortunate that I was given that calling, because you can impact people’s lives in the most vulnerable times. We can be there for those moments, and we can support the families. I know we’ll be in those times, too, and we’ll want that same support.
I know. I think about the future of nursing and people say, “Well, you know, robotics and technology are going to take the human away from the patient.” We’re always going to have illness. Nursing can’t go away, because we’re the human interface.
We are.
Between the patient and technology.
Right. And in that team of 12, 14 people, the nurse is the voice of the patient, and sometimes the patient literally doesn’t have a voice. Do not lose that compassion that you have within you to be the strongest advocate, and make sure the team never loses sight of that. Look at the patient and you’ll do the right thing.

These interviews are provided courtesy of StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. www.storycorps.org