Cell phones for nurses? Should nurses really use cell phones on the job?
One of the most interesting shifts I’ve seen in my career is the widespread use of cell phones, smart phones, blackberries, and iPhones. Yes, technology has changed very rapidly.
I can still recall years ago when pagers were the big thing. Now, text messaging is beginning to replace pagers at a very rapid pace. In fact, I rarely see anyone with a pager these days.
Cell phones were also frowned upon for a long time in hospital settings. There used to be a huge issue with interference with pace makers, and other sensitive medical equipment. While some of these issues may still exist in parts of the world, for the most part, cell phones and medical equipment are now being manufactured in a way so that they no longer cause interference. But if I ever see a sign indicating to shut off cell phones in a hospital or medical setting, I always turn mine off ASAP.
Do Nurses Use Cell Phones on the Job?
When I started as a nurse, I only had a simple prepaid “flip” phone. It wasn’t a smart phone, couldn’t surf the internet, or anything else. It was just an inexpensive phone I had for emergency uses.
After a year or two, I began to notice that all of my fellow nurses would often ask for my phone number, or ask to text. I’d always respond, “Well, I only have a prepaid phone that I use for emergencies. I rarely turn it on.” I would get the most bizarre looks when I said that, as if I lived in the 1950’s or something! And this was only 1-2 years after graduating nursing school.
Well, this past year I’ve finally jumped on the bandwagon! I purchased a smart phone. It is still pay-as-you-go, simply because I don’t like contracts. But it is a monthly plan that gives me a set amount of minutes and unlimited texting, which is nice. Also, I can change my plan at any time or cancel it altogether if I ever want to. Its through Virgin Mobile, and so far I’ve been very pleased.
What’s funny is that I never really realized how much nurses use cell phones on the job. I mean, I always realized nurses around me were texting and so forth, but I never realized how much they actually use the phone as a part of the job.
My floor now encourages us to use text messaging as a way to contact one another! I find that really interesting. We will use texting to request shift changes, to see what time we need to open, to contact doctors, and everything.
On one hand I think it is awesome, because technology makes things so much easier. On the flip side, I can see how using your personal cell phone can create it’s own issues. For example, what if people start nagging you to pick up shifts on your off days? Or what of some pervert starts stalking you via text messages? Yikes!
Luckily, none of this has happened to me in the few months I’ve been texting. Still, it is something I’d recommend new nurses to use extreme caution in doing.
Also, nurses should never release sensitive patient info via text messaging, as that could open up a can of worms with legal issues. In fact, I remember a very serious case in the area I live where some people in a nursing home were abusing elderly patients, and people were recording it with their cell phones. Luckily it was reported to the authorities.
Anyway, I can see how cell phones and smart phones will quickly become the norm in the healthcare industry.