Healthcare Workers and Change

Last Updated: 06 October 2023

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Keith Carlson

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Healthcare rests on a scientific foundation with the tendency to change with new evidence, improved practices and technological advances.

Healthcare professionals must, by nature, grow as the world around them evolves. With so much change as the common denominator, how can you not fall into fear and instead roll with the punches, even as the ground appears to be constantly shifting beneath your feet?

Accepting Change

It’s been said that change is the only constant in the universe, and anyone who works in healthcare can attest that this is all too true. If change can’t be avoided, isn’t it best to just accept that it’s going to happen no matter what?

In any country, a shifting political landscape can improve or gut healthcare legislation and policy, and those changes can quickly trickle down to how healthcare professionals practice and what they experience in the workplace.

Meanwhile, climate change is impacting public health, food supplies and an endless number of issues impacting human, animal and plant life.

Science, Leadership and Change

Science and Leadership Image

Research findings can force healthcare professionals to pivot as new evidence-based practices emerge. With the blistering pace of technological advancement, healthcare professionals face the challenge of new electronic medical record (EMR) software interfaces, Bluetooth-enabled devices and new medications and treatments. They also must accept and integrate technologies involving virtual and augmented reality and the increasing demand for telemedicine.

COVID-19 is demonstrating that the scientific and medical communities can work in tandem with public health, just as they did with HIV/AIDS, SARS, MERS, Ebola and other communicable diseases and pandemics.

Healthcare professionals have moved into greater leadership, finding their own sense of agency in the world, with some assuming the roles of lawmakers, inventors, entrepreneurs, podcasters, scientists and influencers on social media.

Advance practice nurses are gaining much ground in certain countries. For example, nurse practitioners in certain American states can practice completely autonomously without an overseeing physician of any kind.

The times do not stop changing, and healthcare professionals change along with them.

Staying Technologically Relevant

In the 21st century, technology, nursing, healthcare, and medicine are inextricably entwined.

Prudent, forward-thinking healthcare professionals understand that they must be able to pivot when a new device or software is introduced. Whether it’s a programmable IV pump or a Bluetooth-enabled device for tracking vital signs, you’ll need to learn on the job, sometimes under pressure.

So, how do you stay ahead of the curve and remain flexible and relevant amidst rapid technological change that will no doubt continue?

If you want to be a 21st-century healthcare professional who remains relevant in a changing tech-heavy healthcare landscape, you must adjust your attitude towards technology.

One way to accomplish this task is to adopt a mentality of curiosity when it comes to something novel that you encounter. Being curious and open to new experiences will help you turn around the habitual heavy sighing and eye-rolling that results in emotional hijacking, precluding you from happily learning something new.

Critical Thinking

When faced with a new EMR or another new piece of technology, use your powers of objectivity, critical thinking and analysis to assess this thing that could throw a wrench in your day and workflow if you allow it to.

The above-mentioned curiosity can be leveraged along with critical thinking to evaluate this new challenge, compare it with past experiences and use that cognitive process to overcome barriers to learning.

Use Your Tech Brain

Tech Brain Image

If you want to become more knowledgeable about technology and have more ability in that particular arena, there are several ways to go about it.

  1. Volunteer with your organisation’s information technology (IT) department on a special project or initiative and become more exposed to the technological side of healthcare.
  2. Take advantage of the plethora of available online courses related to tech-related skills, from mastering Microsoft Office applications like Excel to learning simple HTML coding.
  3. Ask a tech-friendly friend, colleague, or family member to mentor you in strengthening this aspect of your life and work.

Be the Change

Although it seems to be erroneously attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, the notion of being the change you want to see in the world around you is one to deeply consider. A world out of balance and in chaos can impact a healthcare professional’s family and lifestyle as much as anyone else’s. Even so, many healthcare professionals feel the call to live and work in service to the larger world and to also serve as a positive example to others, including young people.

When change comes quickly, we all must adjust. Healthcare professionals adapt to changes at work, of course, as well as what’s occurring outside the walls of their place of employment.

Technology, disease, social change and politics will never be stagnant, nor will the practice of medicine and nursing. Those who wish to move with the times will keep their finger on the pulse of change and do their best to never be stagnant or resistant.

In the face of massive change and evolution, the healthcare professional uses critical thinking, intuition, and their mind to move forward, even amidst uncertainty.

Be willing, curious, flexible, and ready for change, and your career - and your skills - will undoubtedly be all the better for your positive attitude and diligent efforts.

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