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Respecting clinical skills

28 February 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 4

Although I welcome the development of technology in health care, this does not diminish the need for clinical skills or the need for competence in those who undertake those clinical skills. As the profession advances, it has to rely on the combination of art and science—clinical skills and technology are inextricably linked.

Complex and cutting-edge investigative methods can and do improve clinical savvy and competence; however, nurses and other health professionals must know how to interpret the results generated by the tools they are using. Nurses must also be cognisant of the limitations and possibilities for error as the practice of nursing becomes more dependent on technology.

Over 150 years ago Anstie (1867) noted that the technology associated with the sphygmograph (a device used to record the fluctuations of the pulse) should be used with some governing principles. The then state-of-the-art technology, he said, should be used carefully, there should be no reliance on the sphygmograph unless there were strict and diligent observances. Anstie was engaging with technology but also calling for caution. This still rings true today. Tools such as the sphygmograph or indeed the pulse oximeter are only adjuncts to the human relationship between the nurse and patient; they cannot replace the art of nursing.

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