During a clinical at a cardiac care unit, I interacted with patients and nurses in the unit. I noticed that some nurses were extremely calm and confident, while some others were anxious and worried, lacking confidence. While I was checking the vitals of my patient R, I noticed a minor confrontation between another nurse and a physician. The physician was scolding a nurse, my coworker for wasting time using an electronic gadget. The doctor felt that the situation in the cardiac care unit was serious and nurses should be attentive at all times, not waste time on technology devices for social networking. Accordingly, he did not expect her to focus on trivialities like emails. This confrontation ended when the physician ordered the nurse to “get rid of that thing” and focus on real work.
I noticed that my coworker seemed to be disturbed and upon inquiry, she explained that she was using her digital assistant (PDA) to acquire information about one of her patients. My colleague was disturbed at how she was scolded, without being given a chance to explain. The physician had wrongfully assumed that the PDA was a phone and thought that the nurse was wasting hospital time on personal matters. It was then that I realized how well-read and focused she was and wanted to use technology for enhancing her performance in her practice.
The behavior on the part of the physician was adaptive and it seems that the use of technology in the hospital needed more research and enlightenment. This incident led me to pursue my research concerning the use of technology, specifically the personal digital assistant (PDA), and its huge potential to the healthcare domain, specifically potential and practicing nurses.
The field of nursing is stressful and demanding, causing nervousness and pressure among practicing and student nurses (Martin 2007). The volume and depth of information in the nursing domain necessitate attentiveness and mental agility. Nursing students endeavor to acquire large amounts of knowledge at high speed and apply it in clinical settings (Martin 2007). When nursing students begin their practice, they feel anxious and apprehensive about the use and application of the knowledge resulting in low self-esteem. As such, their functioning as compared to senior nurses is unsystematic and incompetent (Martin 2007).
Technology is being widely used in the field of healthcare to make it more effective, secure, and efficient (Lindquist et al., 2008). The use of technology helps in improving organizational skills and aids healthcare professionals in simplifying tasks (Lindquist et al., 2008). The personal digital assistant (PDA) is an extremely small and multifunctional portable device, performing like a personal computer (Lindquist et al., 2008). Some of the basic functions of a PDA are address book memory, calendar, notepad, and other data storage facilities (Lindquist et al., 2008). The small size, portability, and multi-functionality of the PDA make it extremely convenient to use in clinical and healthcare settings for quick and easy storage and retrieval of data and information (Lindquist et al., 2008).
The use of personal digital assistants (PDA) can be of tremendous use and potential to nurses even before they enter practice. Nurses are required to retain vast amounts of data and knowledge necessitating the use of technology tools such as the PDS to enhance performance in education, clinical settings, and care to patients (Martin 2007). The rate of use of PDAs to support nursing programs is at an increase, not only at the clinical level but also at the educational level (Wu & Lai, 2009). It provides multiple uses of access like access to information, ease of patient data assessment, and speed in collaborating with their peers (Wu & Lai, 2009).
There is a growing rise in PDA usage especially among nurses in the health care departments (Fisher & Koren, 2007). They are extremely beneficial due to their multiple uses such as providing information concise and precise account of diseases, medical history of patients, administration and knowledge about drugs, and information related to procedures and treatments (Fisher & Koren, 2007). Research confirms that the use of PDA by nurses in the clinical setting reduces medication errors and increases the efficiency of care to patients (Greenfield, 2007). It helps in reducing serious errors by reducing stress in nurses since the quality of performance is directly proportional to the level of stress and anxiety (Martin 2007).
A study conducted by Kuiper (2010) shows the significance of educating nursing students and preparing them for efficiently using technology tools such as the PDA (Kuiper, 2010). Another study conducted by Wu & Lai (2009) confirms the benefits of using PDA devices for instructors as well as nursing students. The use of PDA by nurses in healthcare will enhance nursing competence in the clinical setting by enhancing their reasoning skills through the use of computer-aided technology for optimal performance (Kuiper, 2010). Instant access to clinical data and treatment options from medical records found in books of the internet which the PDA provides is of tremendous use and potential to nurses (Kuiper, 2010). Besides, nurses using the PDA will grant access to databases of several departments reducing communication time and increasing their productivity (Kuiper, 2010). Kuiper (2010) asserts that the use of PDA will increase the productivity and outcome of nurses by building their cognitive knowledge and clinical skills. He explains the positive correlation between PDA use by nursing students and its ability to increase their confidence and help them build their clinical rational skills through the use of computer self-efficacy.
Numerous uses of the PDA increase the efficiency of nursing care to patients in the clinical setting, facilitating them to retrieve huge amounts of information related to effective therapeutic patient care (Fisher & Koren, 2007). PDA use provides easy and quick access to vital information such as the medical prescriptions, status, and results of laboratory tests, patient history, and record of other essential medical facts (Martin 2007). More specific uses of the PDA are its ability to maintain huge amounts of resources including but not limited to information on drugs, physician and personal records, patient information such as history, allergies, test results and drug history, and medical dictionaries of potential use to nurses (Fisher & Koren, 2007).
PDA also offers benefits such as internet access, e-mail connectivity, and web access (Fisher & Koren, 2007). The device also shows great potential for use in advanced research studies for the collection of data. In a study by Schnall et al. (2010), it was used to accumulate data to determine the predictors of depression by a collection of data from nurses. The device promises tremendous potential in healthcare research and development. Additionally, the use of PDA will help nurses reinforce basic knowledge and increase their performance, patient care, work efficiency, and overall self-confidence (Martin 2007). The PDA offers great promise to the nursing community for effective patient care and time management (Fisher & Koren, 2007).
The literature review confirms that the PDA is an excellent technology device for use in the healthcare setting. Specifically, the use of the PDA should be made compulsory for the nursing department, starting from undergraduate degree programs. It is also important to educate all healthcare professionals about the use and potential of the PDA as an ideal device for enhanced clinical outcomes. An interesting and effective way of adopting the PDA as an essential device in the nursing domain would be to make funding options available for all nurses to be given a PDA. Financial support hospitals would encourage nurses to adopt the technology so that they would not have to make any personal financial sacrifices.
Technology plays a great role in improving healthcare outcomes. The PDA is a highly useful and effective device that makes it easy for nurses, both students and practicing, to retrieve important data and resources for enhanced healthcare outcomes and better patient care. Research and studies from different healthcare domains confirm that the PDA is an excellent device to be used by nurses and helps in the management of time, resources, and data related to the patient. The PDA is the need of the hour in modern times where nurses are so stressed with the multitude of tasks they have to accomplish. The use of the PDA should thus be made compulsory among nurses right from their undergraduate programs.
Fisher, K. & Koren, A. (2007). Palm Perspectives: The Use of Personal Digital Assistants in Nursing Clinical Education. A Qualitative Study. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 11(2)
Greenfield, Sue (2007). Medication error reduction and the use of PDA technology. Journal of Nursing Education, 46(3), 127-131
Kuiper, R. (2010). Metacognitive Factors that Impact Student Nurse Use of Point of Care Technology in Clinical Settings. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, Vol. 7(1) Art.5
Lindquist, M., Johansson, E., Petersson, I., Saveman, I. & Nilsson, C. (2008). The Use of the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) Among Personnel and Students in Health Care: A Review. J Med Internet Res 10(4), e31
Martin, R. (2007). Making a Case for Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) Use in Baccalaureate Nursing Education. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 11(2)
Schnall, R., Currie, L. M, Jia, H., John, R. M., Lee, N. J., Velez, O. & Bakken, S. (2010). Predictors of depression screening rates of nurses receiving a personal digital assistant-based reminder to screen. J. Urban Health, 87(4), 703-12
Wu, C. C., & Lai, C.Y. (2009). Wireless Handhelds to Support Clinical Nursing Practicum. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (2), 190–204