Episode 312: Virtual Nursing in Health Care

“I think a virtual nurse can have the same sort of presence that a bedside nurse does. I like to think of a virtual nurse as pulling up a virtual chair next to that patient and spending time to ask questions and engage with them,” Laura Gartner, DNP, MS, RN, NEA-BC, associate chief nursing informatics officer for inpatient shared services and north region at Jefferson Health in the Philadelphia, PA, area told Jaime Weimer, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BS, AOCNS®, manager of oncology nursing practice at ONS, during a conversation about virtual nursing care.

Music Credit: “Fireflies and Stardust” by Kevin MacLeod

Licensed under Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0 

Earn 0.5 contact hours of nursing continuing professional development (NCPD) by listening to the full recording and completing an evaluation at myoutcomes.ons.org by May 17, 2026. The planners and faculty for this episode have no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies to disclose. ONS is accredited as a provider of NCPD by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

Learning outcome: Learners will report an increase in knowledge related to virtual nursing.

Episode Notes 

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Highlights From This Episode

“I think that the virtual nurse plays a really important role in nurse staffing shortages. With this shortage, we need to get creative and think outside the box so that we can facilitate nurse wellness, work-life balance, and satisfaction and make our hospitals the place that nurses want to work. I firmly believe that nothing can replace the physical touch, but there are so many things a nurse does every day that can be done by somebody remotely that can reduce the workload of that bedside nurse." TS 3:28

“About eight nurses between these two floors have volunteered to take on this role as a virtual nurse, and so they will come right from that floor. But there’s a lot of conversation about whether you should use staff from the floor, if you should use other people, things along those lines. But right now, we really hope and think that the nurses we’ve identified for this phase have a relationship with these units. They know how the units work, and that might help get everybody working together.” TS 6:37

“We found that it was really important to have a virtual knock for the patient so that you’re not just popping into a room and taking a patient off guard. Privacy features for the patient—so if there’s a camera pointing at the patient all the time, that gives a patient a little unease. ‘Is somebody watching me?’ And when we weren’t really watching them all the time; it was intermittent care, so having a camera turn away from the patient when it’s off or have a clear indicator that it’s not on.” TS 11:57

“In terms of lessons learned with the virtual staff…I don’t think that you can just take any nurse off the floor and put them behind a camera. There is a bit of a ‘webside manner,’ if you will. People need to be comfortable doing things remotely where they can’t touch the patient, or having a conversation with somebody through a camera might not be a skill that everybody has or is comfortable doing.” TS 13:39

“I don’t think a virtual nurse can replace that physical touch. What I see a virtual nurse is, is another member of the care team whose care complements the care the bedside nurse is providing. I don’t think that we should be looking to remove resources from the bedside with this nursing shortage but rather evaluate what our nurses are doing, identify if there’s tasks that someone else can do for them so that they can focus on the patient. And there are plenty of things that a virtual nurse could do so that the bedside nurse can spend more time doing quality work with that patient.” TS 21:40

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