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3 Technologies to Help Health Care Students Learn to Care for Aging Populations

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At The College of Westchester, where I work, our Allied Health programs are a vital part of our offerings. The demand for health care workers is expected to see continuous growth in many areas of the world, making this post's topic of particular interest. Thanks to guest writer Andrej Kovacevic for the piece. – KW

Aging populations are a top demographic trend in the United States, Australia, Japan, China and many other countries around the globe. As our population ages, increasing numbers of nurses, home health aides and elder care support workers are needed to ensure our senior citizens are always well taken care of.

Tech companies are identifying and responding to the need for tech-driven products that can help us care for our elderly people. A couple of years ago, EmeringEdTech founder Kelly Walsh shared some interesting statistics about Japan's aging population in a review of the book Industries of the Future. As their population ages, a shortage of elder care nurses is becoming evident. In response, the technologically savvy Japanese have been hard at work developing humanoid nursing aide robots that are intended to help members of their society care for their elderly.

However sophisticated these robots might be, they cannot yet truly take the place of caring human beings who will provide empathetic nursing care to our grandparents’ generation. The crisis-level shortage of human nurses in the USA, Japan and elsewhere remains one of the world's as-yet-unsolved problems.

One of the causes of that problem: In the recent past, there have not been enough available seats in nursing school to educate the massive numbers of nurses we need. This is not an unsolvable problem, and education technology is likely to help to solve it. With enough smart and enthusiastic people applying brainpower to the issues at hand, we'll no doubt arrive at workable solutions soon.

Ed tech is shaping up to play a big role in finding solutions for these challenges. Here are 3 of the technologies that are currently being used to educate our nursing care professionals who will, in turn, take care of our elderly loved ones:

1. Simulations and Simulation Labs

If you were on your deathbed or critically ill, would you want a student nurse handling your care? Few people would answer “yes” to that question, which is one of the major difficulties academic institutions encounter when educating new nurses. That's one of multiple reasons that so many universities are now incorporating simulation lab work into their academic degree programs.

One interesting example: There are now high-tech mannequins that nursing students are able to use for learning how to check blood pressure and perform a broad variety of other medical checks — without the possibility of discomfort to any living patients.

2. Educational Nursing Apps

There are numerous apps available to nurses that are intended for helping them do their jobs more easily. One example of this is “VeinSeek“, a smartphone app which guides nurses in better locating a patient's veins — information that would be useful when the nurse is preparing to give a patient a shot. Don't you wish the nurses who administered your childhood shots had access to this app when you were a kid?

Other apps help nurses easily look up information about medications and communicate their findings with doctors and other colleagues.

3. Online Courses and Degree Programs

Online courses are making it possible to educate nurses and other healthcare workers with greater efficiency than ever before.

In Australia, many of the students who are studying to earn their certificate IV in ageing support are doing so via the internet. The course providers enjoy high success rates with this method of teaching. 87.3 percent of the students who graduate from these programs report satisfaction with the training they received. 62.9 percent have reported that they were able to improve their employment status as a direct result of their training. 84.7 find employment as community and personal service workers; they're likeliest to work in Australia's healthcare and social assistance industry.

Of course, these 3 educational technologies are not the only types of technological innovations that will help us care for our elderly. Numerous innovative new technologies like mhealth are also becoming available outside of the education sector. As technologies such as these are introduced and later become mainstream, educators will be needed to evaluate them, understand them and possibly incorporate them into their curricula to teach to others. It is essential for educators to keep pace with the latest tech trends so they can help their students prepare well for navigating the workplace of the future.

 

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Andrej is a dedicated writer and digital evangelist. He is pursuing an ongoing mission to share the benefits of his years of hard-won expertise with business leaders and marketing professionals everywhere. He is a contributor to a wide range of technology-focused publications, where he may be found discussing everything from neural networks and natural language processing to the latest in smart home IoT devices. If there's a new and exciting technology, there's a good chance Andrej is writing about it somewhere out there.

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