Does nursing education need an update?

I am going to share my thought on nursing education:

The way nursing teaches feels like it’s 20 years behind.

There, I said it.

What we are teaching our students and how we are teaching them is outdated.

I graduated with my Associates in nursing almost 10 years ago. Why in God’s name did I have to calculate drip rates? Not once in my almost decade of being a nurse have I EVER had to calculate a drip rate! In fact, most hospitals prefer meds to be given through the IV pump to help avoid mistakes in how fast an IV medication is given. Another thing I learned in school that is absolutely obsolete is how to give the “perfect” nursing bath. Let me just tell you that the bath you are taught and the bath you will be given are not the same. No one has the time to give this elaborate bath and many facilities are moving away from basin baths and moving towards the chlorohexidine wipes. However, those are mminor things that need to be updated.

What I really am appalled by is how nursing school made me feel like I would be all on my own. I spent so long trying to memorize every medication my poor brain could store because I was made to feel like I had to know them all. I tried to memorize all the side effects. I wanted to know contraindications, interactions, dosages…

I needed to know it all because I alone am responsible.

Yeah, no.

I have always had a wonderful relationship with pharmacy. I have no problem with calling pharmacy and asking about a dosage, an interaction, how often it can be given, etc. As a nurse you are actually not alone. If all else fails, there are several apps that can be downloaded to your phone that can provide a wealth of medication information (think Epocrates, Medscape, and so on).

And that is my next gripe, technology.

Why are nursing programs not incorporating the wealth of technology into their nursing programs? Just about eveyone has a phone now with access to Google. This idea that we have to memorize everything because we have no one to turn to is very obsolete. There is literally a wealth of information at our fingertips. We are in the information age and it’s time nursing realizes that.

But nothing, and I mean nothing, is probably more obsolete than those damn careplans! Hours and hours spent writing thorough nursing plans, while thumbing through the nursing diagnosis books and for what? Most careplans are now documented in the online charting systems (Epic, Cerner and such). Furthermore, NO ONE looks at them but the TJC when they come to visit!

Something is wrong with nursing education. Many Associates prepared nurses are coming out of school with plenty of knowledge on how to complete tasks. A lot of ADN programs teach tasks with no real time spent going over critical thinking. There are Bachelors prepared nurses have all the knowledge of theory and delegation but no real idea on how to apply that knowledge in the real world.

This is a problem. We are hammering nurses with knowledge and theory but not showing nurses how to apply what they have learned with REAL patients. Don’t get me wrong, as individuals providing health care we need the knowledge we are given. However, we need to learn how to teach nurses to apply what they have learned. We need to learn how to teach nurses how to reflect and resolve when problems do arise. This idea that nurses have to do it all and be perfect needs to die. Quickly.

Our future nurses deserve better.

12 thoughts on “Does nursing education need an update?

  1. Fred, I’m an old diploma school nurse (1957-1960). We worked on the units from
    day one while taking classes! Applied the knowledge right away! Yep, maybe nursing ed should go back to that kind of practice! 🎶 Christine


  2. i agree with this in some aspects, but i have worked in more resource poor settings like a small outside hospital where i have had to calculate a drip rate before because we ran out of pumps, or in an clinic setting where they don’t have pumps at all so you are giving liter boluses by watching drips… 0.o

    i have worked medsurg before but now work in the community setting and think nursing education should shift more towards community health now that patients are getting discharged sooner while still being pretty acutely ill. patients go home with crazy deep wounds or needing all kinds of outpatient infusions that take a lot of coordination to make happen- and often times get readmitted because there just isn’t the support system in place to get the patient the care they need (while outpatient).

    but you know i totally agree with you on the care plans. so many hours of my life wasted writing care plans. i will never get those back. *sob*** =( …..


  3. madefornurses

    Wouldn’t it be helpful if medical schools and nursing schools could somehow have students interact? This might go a long way in helping nurses and doctors better understand their respective education process and perspectives when it comes to patient call.

    Made For Nurses |

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Katherine A. K. Locke

    I absolutely agree! Nursing education is in dire need of being updated to meet the needs of nurses today. I graduated from BU back in 1986, and they were teaching the things that you mentioned. We were told that the only thing that remains the same in nursing is change: Well, then! The nursing schools should followtheir own advice and change with the timesss!


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