I time traveled to the past the other day. No, really. For a total of 48 hours I was completely without my Smartphone and access to my laptop. I actually had to start this blog with pen and paper, how totally retro is that? In the incurring frustration of not being able to check Facebook for the latest updates, I began to go a little stir crazy. I went out and stared at my garden. The zucchini had grown only marginally in the 15 minutes since I had last observed it. I searched the house and my truck again for any hope of finding my phone and lamented for the zillionth time my decision to discard the idea of a land line as archaic. I checked the freezer. My overheated laptop was still chilling, still refusing to boot up. So, in desperation, I did what any other writer bound by the death of modern technology would do; I turned on my iPod, grabbed a notebook, and stared at the lines of a blank page for inspiration. It hit me in that moment that I was certainly glad this was summer break. As I pondered how I would manage without a phone or a PC during nursing school, I began to consider just how much technology has changed the face of nursing and healthcare in general.
I think it is safe to say technology runs healthcare. Computerized charting with EPIC, PACS imaging systems, intranet paging and widespread use of tablet and Smartphone apps all have become common practice within health care facilities. I saw my family NP the other day and she checked my prescription info using the Davis drug guide app and then promptly sent the script to Walgreens directly from her laptop. During an ER rotation at Providence Medford Medical Center, I witnessed the Telestroke system that allows specialists from OHSU in Portland to communicate real time with Providence ER physicians in Medford. Through the use of a camera and a computer, specialists can assess the patient and consult real time with the local physician. Using PACS, they can view any CT or MRI films that may have been taken. The system operates with seamless coordination to save time and lives. I remember being more than just a little awestruck that the future of medicine was not only available, it was in Medford!
As I considered all of this and also the gadgets that I work with routinely, I found myself humbled by how much of my life is impacted by technology. Our class has its own Facebook page to keep tabs on assignments, share clinical discoveries, and plan the occasional party…er, I mean study session. In a recent Facebook survey I conducted regarding Smartphones, I appear to be an Android outcast in a class full of iPhone loyalists. The results also found many of us use apps like Micromedex, Epocrates, and various NCLEX study tools to aid in our clinical work. Personally, my phone serves not only as a source of information but also keeps my calendar, serves as my alarm clock, and the notepad speak-to-text feature allows me to create quick notes for myself with alarms. All of these are invaluable to a brain like mine that tends to be prone to distraction and needs frequent reminders. Remembering where I leave my phone, well, suffice to say there’s no app for that yet. Fortunately, my flashback to the simplicity of pen and paper was brief. My laptop cooled and its overheated brain decided to reboot. My phone ended up in the pocket of my jeans, buried at the bottom of a hamper. I am grateful to be back online and wired in. I have a new found appreciation for the technology that keeps my routine running smoothly, both in school and during breaks. I announced my re-arrival to the online world by posting it to my Facebook status. To some I’m sure the inundation of technology is all a little bit much. Just how much is too much? I pondered that question as I finished this blog and uploaded it to StudentSpeak via the WordPress website.