Sunday, March 29, 2015

Don't Close the Tech Door on Your Nursing Career

In my work as a career coach for nurses,  many people tell me that they simply don't have the savvy to use social media, apps, and other new and emerging technologies for the benefit of their career, and I respond by saying, "Don't close the tech door on your career!"

You see, in the 21st-century employment ecosystem, using technology to your advantage is no longer an option for most professionals who want to move their career forward. With the online employment application being ubiquitous, and potential employers and colleagues looking you up on Linked In and Google, being tech-savvy and conversant with the most popular platforms is essential to your career mobility (as well as keeping up with the salient online conversations taking place 24 hours a day).

Embrace Technology

For those of you who listen to RNFM Radio, The Innovative Nurse Show, or The Nurse Keith Show,  you know that we love tech, and we recommend its use for professional purposes. The need to embrace advances in communication is undeniable, and those who choose not to may sometimes find themselves on the sidelines.

Some employers, like Kevin Ross' Spire Health Partners in Boulder, no longer accept resumes and don't even have an online application; they solely accept applicants' Linked In profiles as an application. This is not a very widely used practice, but it will likely become more commonplace in the years to come.

Meanwhile, there are conversations about the nursing profession and the healthcare industry taking place constantly on social media, and many of those conversations---and the relationships you can create from engaging in them---will serve to move your career forward, or point you in a direction where you'd like to go.

If you're not tuned in (to some degree) to the online discussions occurring among other nurses and healthcare professionals, there's so much that you'll simply not be privy to. Mainstream media can no longer efficiently deliver the content that we need and want, so curating your own content from various platforms is the most powerful way to keep your finger on the pulse of the nursing industry and the general healthcare landscape.

As the Unit Goes, So Goes the Rest

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, or practicing nursing in a very rural area without electricity or cell phone service of any kind, you know that nursing practice has been summarily turned on its head by increasing technological advances. From electronic medical records and telemedicine to advances in telemetry and imaging, nurses are daily impacted by changes in technology.

So, if we're in agreement about that, can you also agree that, just as technology on your unit has changed and advanced, hasn't the technology related to your home, car, cell phone, and other aspects of life also changed apace?

And if we take that comparison to its apt conclusion, your need (and ability) to adapt to technological changes generally keeps pace (for the most part) with the changes occurring both at home and at work. Thus, one of the other steps to take is to make sure that you keep up with changes regarding communication technology, and the ways in which your career must be managed in the 21st century.

Don't Kick and Scream

Just like you may not have embraced every technological change at work with the greatest alacrity and excitement, you may also have kicked and screamed as smart phones entered the fray. (Honestly, I resisted smart phones until mid-2014, so I totally understand!)

Now, with annoying people like me telling you to hop on Twitter, Google+, and Linked In to connect with other nurses, while also tuning into podcasts and webinars, you may be feeling overwhelmed. Actually, you may feel so overwhelmed by the tech tsunami that you're actively seeking an appropriate rock under which to place your head.

Well, friends, don't fret, and give up the search for that rock. Simply embrace one platform or technology at a time, using your intuition and keen nursing assessment skills to ascertain which one would be most useful to you at this time of your career. Need to meet nurses in the state where you're moving in the fall? Learn how to use Linked In to find them. Want to tune into the latest nursing conversations about vaccines and communicable diseases? Twitter is likely your best bet. And so on.

One (Tech) Step at a Time

You see, you don't have to buy the tech manifesto hook, line, and sinker; just stick your toe in where it feels appropriate, learn what you need to learn, ask questions, and then move on to what next seems most salient.

Of course, the world won't come to a screeching halt if you fail to learn about hashtags and podcast rss feeds, but your career may become somewhat stymied when various processes and technologies are beyond your grasp.

When you're feeling overwhelmed, just imagine when people had to learn to use a telephone in order to conduct business, or when typewriters were first introduced to the modern office environment. Those workers had to remain nimble and open-minded, learning the technologies that would move them ahead professionally. With the advent of the typewriter, those who were stenographers eventually needed to adapt and learn a new skill, or fall by the wayside. How will you address similar changes in your own professional world?

So, folks, take it as it comes, embrace what feels right, push yourself a little beyond your comfort zone, and allow technology to work for you, so that you can do the work you love the most.

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