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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Are We Losing Independent Thinkers?

Published May 17, 2007 10:33 AM by Linda Jones

I first started noticing it in the grocery store. A person would be standing in front of the cereal selection asking the person on the cell phone what kind they should bring home. Why can't this person make this kind of decision on her own? What disaster will strike if the family has breakfast with Captain Crunch instead of Toucan Sam?

I never considered how this would transfer to the workplace until I read an article that says millennials (the newest generation to join the workforce) are so used to being connected to family and friends that they have a hard time making decisions on their own.

The article cited a study and reported, "Roughly three-quarters of executives and HR managers at 400 companies surveyed said that recent 4-year college graduates displayed only ‘adequate' professionalism and work ethic, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking and problem-solving. Only one-quarter reported an ‘excellent' display of those traits in recent college graduates." The study didn't look specifically at graduates from nursing programs, but one can assume they would be similar.

It is important and smart that nurses be connected to information to check facts and for evidence-based practices. That's why they carry pocket drug handbooks, PDAs, have Internet access - not to mention supervisors. But they also need to be able to think on their feet, in the moment, with confidence.

Is anyone noticing that new grads seem more dependent on technology and have a hard time making decisions on their own? Let's hear from some Generation Y nurses, too. How do you react to these suggestions?

--Linda Jones, editorial director


I just discovered ADVANCE's Nurse POV blog from reading Advance for Nurses publication.  Your perspective on technology replacing decision making among the newer generation of nurses is thought-provoking.  Your thoughts remind me of the advent of cash registers calculating the amount of cash to be returned when making purchases, i.e., cashiers didn't know how to count back.  %0d%0a%0d%0aYes, I am one of those 'older' nurses (graduated in 1985), but fully embrace technology and the convenience it offers.  But, I've learned that 'older'nurses are quicker in making decisions in crises situations and have knowledge not available in PDA's and computers.  Perhaps, it's due to length of experience, type of education - I'm not really sure. I re-entered nursing in 2002 for a 2 year period (I was out of clinical nursing for 13 years), and discovered I had more nursing and scientific knowledge than the newer nurses.  %0d%0a%0d%0aThanks for stimulating this conversation.

Marti Hand, Visual Arts - RN , September 4, 2007 11:01 AM
Decatur GA

I graduated from nursing school last year and am working in a rural area.  I don't think in any way that new grads are less able to think on their own than generations before.  We're just smart.  We take advantage of the technology and advances that unfold.  We are not afraid of technology.  My older colleagues utilize drug books to look up a med and I use my palm pilot.  What's the difference.  My way is just much faster.  I use the internet rather than a text book to find info.  I have found that generations before me are resistant to technology and progression in the profession and to me this is so sad.  

Nichole , Nursing - BSN August 14, 2007 3:35 AM

This is an especially frightening trend to all of us, but especially to the bubble of baby boomers who are about to become heavy consumers of health care services.  Just when competence and dedication to service are going to be wanted and needed most, it's almost as if they're being bred out of the population.

The causes are multifactorial, monumental, and, I fear, irreversible.

I have been particularly aware that so much information is available to those interested in an evidence-based practice, but it is only tepidly promoted with minimal training in access techniques in my own work setting.

I don't have any statistical or concrete information to contribute. Just anecdotal observations.  Nor do I have any suggestions for reversing the trend, other than starting as far back as current educational philosophies in public schools.

So I will not continue.

Thanks for the stimulation, though.

Wally Emerson, MedSurg - Staff RN, Athens Regional Medical Center May 19, 2007 5:51 PM
Athens GA

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