I’ve always liked video games. As a child, my Aunt would take me to the local convenience store with a roll of quarters and I would play Ms. Pac Man™ for what seemed like hours, especially to her. I was in heaven. By the time my eldest daughter was old enough to play, games like Tomb Raider™ and Spyro™, with their cool graphics, had been developed. Yep, good old fashioned mother/daughter bonding, while we searched for treasures or shot fire at the oversized Gnasty Gnork. As I grew older, I sort of left my gamer days behind me, or so I thought.
Research has shown that surgeons who played video games have better hand eye coordination than their counterparts; however, I never really considered how this could be applied to nursing.
Nursing technology is fast growing. We now have new fields such as Nursing Informatics, and nurses are being used by hospitals and software companies to help develop and maintain online nursing documentation programs. Just think, in a few years, for many of the newer nurses, computerized documentation will be the thing they know. I won’t even get into when the system went down in my department and the newer nurses looked at the paper record like it was some “thing” that would bite them!
As I watch these new nurses with their extremely fast typing skills and their quick grasp on all things technical, I never thought all those hours I spent with my daughter and Lara (Croft that is), would be of any professional benefit, until this year.
The American Heart Association, like so many other areas of nursing, is now computerized and interactive with their BCLS and PALS programs. Another Educator and myself, both being PALS instructors, decided to take the computerized course first, before springing it on the staff. We passed, and although it was different, we are both past gamers so we thought nothing of it. The first group of nurses to take the course also had no problems. The second group, however, had an extremely difficult time. They had to retake scenarios several times and they were very frustrated.
I didn’t understand. The first group was relatively new, five to seven years of nursing experience, and all in their 20s to 30s. The second were seasoned nurses, who, in past lives, had been Intensive Care and ED nurses. They knew this stuff backwards and forwards. Why were they having such a hard time? I mean, these nurses have been doing electronic documentation for years-they can’t be afraid of the computer.
As I listened to some of their complaints a light bulb went off in my head. To prove my theory, I asked some of my newer nurses how they manage to do the CD without being reduced to tears, cursing and thumb sucking (Okay, maybe not the thumb sucking, but definitely the other two). What I thought was true. The answer was video games. Huh, you say? How could God of War™ help you get PALS certified? And once again I tell you, video games.
The younger nurses were used to finding the secret room or treasure. They were used to shooting aliens repeatedly and doing all of it quickly or they would lose a life. Watching them assess the patient, put on monitoring equipment, start IVs, draw labs, and start fluids, all within a few seconds by clicking the mouse, was no big deal to them. And, if they didn’t feel comfortable, they redid the scenario even quicker, because they knew where everything was. They were used to replaying the same video games over again. If the same scenario got harder, that’s like just going to the next level to them.
I could hear my little 12 year old daughter’s voice when I could not figure out how to get Lara out of the swim room or I didn’t realize I needed to repeatedly shoot the bear (“each level gets harder, Mom”) as she rolled her eyes. And, get this, some of them had taken the class and they liked the interactive CD more than the class unlike their older colleagues, because they felt it was more interaction and made you think a lot more than just sitting in a class.
Who knew that those pesky little video games would help me save the life of a virtual child with cardiomyopathy, as well as draw labs when I start the IV, all while ordering an X-ray? And, in actuality, isn’t this what we do in real life anyway?
Sometimes it’s just hard to verbalize it or mentally put it in step by step order. Yes, I know you always reassess and that you would never not put oxygen on a blue patient, but you’ve got to tell it to reassess; it’s just a machine, it doesn’t know what you are thinking. No hon, you are a wonderful nurse. Yes, I know you have done this for 20 years. It’s ok, here’s some tissue.
So now I am looking for those old Centipede™ and Ms Pac Man™ games, hoping the old Pac Man™ fever I used to have will help me save the next virtual child with an initial assessment of a rash with fever. Video games, who knew?!
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