International Nurses Day 2023


photo of a nurse for the international Nurses Day 2023

At FH we have been involved in healthcare for over 40 years. We interact with all types of medical staff and have always focused our design and engineering efforts towards the end users. Foremost among these are the nurses. We have an almost daily fruitful exchange with them: we receive not only advice and feedback on the tools and methods they use, but also ideas regarding their future.

We write about this now, also in relation to International Nurses’ Day. This is held every year on May 12, the day on which the English nurse Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing science, was born in Florence in 1820. This year’s theme is “Our Nurses. Our Future.” We will call Elisabetta a fictitious nurse who embodies a series of answers from several real nurses, and not ChatGPT 🙂 to whom we asked 3 questions. And we begin with the future itself….

How do you imagine the role/work of the nurse will change in the next 10 years?

Our category has been under great stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know that. Several countries, including Italy, have realised in a brutal way that there are real staffing problems. This is being taken care of… so I imagine that, little by little, there will be more of us. And I also hope, again at the Italian level only, that we will be better represented and protected.

At European level the role of the nurse has already begun a slow process of transformation, which sees nurses becoming more and more involved in the diagnosis process, and then also including the possibility of prescribing certain drugs. So I see nurses approaching part of their professionalism closer to that of doctors.

But I also see the nurse of the future having more and more IT skills: the paper medical record and treatment plans are already disappearing. In 10 years the transformation to digital will be complete. In every healthcare facility, smartphones, tablets and computers in general will be the norm: patient location and their registry management, treatments and medications they will have to take; but also in the management of ward stocks, both for medications and for all other products; in the management of equipment as well as work shifts; even access to medications, equipment and materials will be managed electronically and traceably.

I imagine a future without keys: it will be the ID card, the smartwatch or the smartphone that opens doors, unlocks cupboards and drawers and marks entrances and exits from work.

What about the future of a generic ward or med trolley? What will it be like in 10 years from now?

Continuing the logical thread of my previous answer, I can almost imagine self-driving ward trolleys, say robot trolleys. If it’s already happening for cars and small goods delivery vehicles… why shouldn’t it happen in the wards of hospitals and nursing homes?

There will be drugs to be administered at fixed times, therefore repetitive and backed by a treatment plan, which will probably be brought by robots directly to the patient’s bedside.

But I also imagine trolleys or on-demand delivery services that will bring in what is required by the nurse. It doesn’t matter how and from where, as long as the requested item arrives. So I imagine there will be less and less pushing of a ward trolley.

Tell us briefly what you value in a ward trolley

I think I speak for virtually all colleagues, whatever country they are in: the trolley must be manoeuvrable and versatile first of all. It must be light in its own right, but capable of carrying a fairly large load and you must be able to manoeuvre it without too much effort. There are so many stop-and-go operations during a day!

When I say versatile, I mean that it must be able to adapt to workloads that change quite often: I am thinking, for example, of peaks in the occupancy of certain departments. I must also be able to reconfigure (up to a certain point, that’s clear) the trolley without too much effort, for example by installing or removing certain accessories.

Very important: it must be easy to clean! We must take as little time as possible, and do it properly for everyone’s safety.

Now that I think about it: the design of the trolley must make the many gestures, repeated every day, as comfortable as possible. The drawers must open well and with little effort; they must be of various sizes, with configurable spaces for quick (and convenient) access to what they contain; even small details such as the handle of a drawer count: it seems a small thing… yet drawers are opened hundreds of times a day.

If the trolley is also silent when moving, and silent when opening and closing drawers… that’s a great thing. Even better if it has a step that acts as a foot rest: we spend the day walking!

I would also add something about aesthetics: a well-designed and well-conceived product becomes pleasing to those who have to deal with it all day, every day. But I understand that this aspect takes second place.


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