It’s a common misconception that once nurses finish their studies and graduate into the workforce, they’re ready to tackle the world of healthcare with no additional education. The truth is a little trickier, however. Although an excellent nursing education is vital for registered nurses (RNs) to support patients and manage healthcare systems, they never truly stop learning.
For example, technology and medical practice are always evolving, so it pays for nurses to keep their fingers on the pulse of healthcare standards and any breaking news in the industry. If there is anything RNs learned during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that keeping up to date is vital for the best patient outcomes.
Here is a look at some of the most important reasons RNs should always keep up to date on the latest news and movements in healthcare.
It’s a core facet of evidence-based practice
Modern medicine and nursing are rooted, for the most part, in the concept of evidence-based practice. Many nurses find they make case decisions, diagnoses and medication changes based on well-documented and peer-reviewed evidence.
Although breaking news from mass media and rumors from social media might not inspire a lot of confidence, keeping up to date on breaking trends across news outlets can help RNs fortify their evidence-based practice. For example, what if a crucial new case in kidney dialysis shows that there are new research trends nurses should consider?
One of the best ways to keep up to speed with healthcare news and evidence-based practice is to subscribe to various journals relevant to an RN’s field. Many nurses learn more about the most relevant and trusted journals while studying.
For example, while earning an online ABSN in Massachusetts from a reputable institution such as Saint Joseph’s College, students will learn the best ways to research and enhance their knowledge. Student nurses at Saint Joseph’s College will not only learn how to look for evidence and build their own practice models but how to align them with core principles and ethics in nursing.
Evidence-based practice means relying on precedent cases to influence treatments and patient outcomes. By staying current on the latest health news, RNs can continue to expand their knowledge and discuss potential changes to their practice with peers and mentors.
Patient safety demands modern techniques
Many of the modern drugs and treatments RNs rely on are constantly being re-evaluated and explored, which means they can freely re-examine existing practices thanks to new evidence and emerging ideas.
Therefore, instead of sticking to their usual methods, RNs should always read the latest healthcare news and make critically informed decisions that are in the best interests of their patients.
For example, someone taking a specific medication for blood clotting might experience unusual new side effects. A study in a new peer-reviewed journal article might then find that people over a certain age cannot safely take the medicine in question.
Therefore, RNs and their superiors need to consider altering their practices and pivoting to different treatment methods for the sake of their patients. As always, it’s worth ensuring experts review and address such changes before practices are altered too much. In any case, a well-educated, critically thinking RN will proceed with caution and await further instructions.
Care quality improves
As long as the latest health news proves to have a basis in reality, it’s essential that nurses take these details seriously. However, they typically need to wait for peer-reviewed journal articles to confirm the safety and efficacy of certain new measures before trying them out on patients.
Nevertheless, as decades of evidence-based practice have long proven, change is generally positive. Without policy, ideology and treatment changes, we might still be using archaic methods of treating patients and ignoring side effects.
Keeping track of health news and research developments ensures that RNs are always moving forward and focusing on improving care quality. For example, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses had to adjust quickly to the latest knowledge available regarding social distancing and preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Doing so helped them not only save lives through personal protective equipment but also through the use of medicine (and eventually vaccines) tested to protect people against the virus.
It’s easier for nurses to adapt to tech advances
Technology is evolving and changing how we all work, regardless of the industry. In nursing, the pandemic forced technology to support RNs and other healthcare staff in remarkable new ways.
For example, the rise of telehealth ensured hospitals could still manage patient health while preserving a safe distance. This technology, although it was not new in 2020, was still emerging into the mainstream, allowing patients to connect with doctors and nurses via video calls for assessments.
By staying on top of the newest technological developments, RNs can incorporate beneficial equipment and research into their everyday treatments more confidently.
They can share knowledge with the public
Finally, in an age when the twisting of stories and facts is rife thanks to social media and politically-driven news outlets, nurses need to provide an objective mouthpiece that people can trust when it comes to medical tourism and the latest health developments.
Therefore, RNs and other healthcare staff need to build their own balanced, objective picture of the latest healthcare news. Doing so can be difficult with so many news outlets available, which is why RNs should rely first and foremost on peer-reviewed articles in medical journals. By presenting objective, evidence-based news to the public, they can ensure people protect themselves better against emerging health concerns and potentially drive down hospital admissions.
Moreover, learning more from the latest health news can help support nurses’ development over time, as long as they keep a balanced view. RNs already do an excellent job of providing evidence-based care to millions of people in need. However, by keeping up to speed on medical news, they can ensure their knowledge grows and the quality of their care improves.