Nursing Course in Computer Competency

The basis for the objectives

The widespread lack of nursing informatics skills and technological expertise among nurses has been areas of concern in the healthcare sector. Although technologies have reached healthcare facilities and learning institutions, some nursing professionals and students lack competencies to use them in safe, effective and competent manner to deliver healthcare services and education. Apart from possessing excellent nursing skills, nurses should have good technology skills, or at least have basic computer skills for working in the modern healthcare environment (American Nurses Association, 2008). For instance, nurses should possess the ability to protect patient privacy within electronic health record systems, effectively capture and store patient data in the system, use various software applications in nursing environments, administer medications and communicate properly through such modes. It is therefore imperative for nurse educators to establish nursing informatics competencies for nurses. This would ensure that nursing educators, administrators and leaders comprehend and appreciate that such basic computer skills are necessary for different aspects of their jobs. One effective method of enhancing nursing informatics competencies in the nursing profession is to introduce such courses and topics in nursing curricula (National League for Nursing, 2008).

Entry-level nursing students with adequate skills in technologies are most likely to be effective in their jobs after completing nursing programs. Nursing schools, therefore, should review their curricula and start to include nursing informatics education for nursing students (Hamilton-Hill, 2009). At the same time, nursing schools should also assess competency levels of nurse educators to ensure that they comprehend technologies and can teach students well. Nurse educators who do not have skills in technologies may also experience the same issues as their learners (Hamilton-Hill, 2009). One must note that teaching and comprehending computer skills could be extremely difficult if the teacher lacks the required skills to deliver course contents (Hamilton-Hill, 2009). Moreover, technological changes are taking place rapidly and that it is necessary for nurse educators and students to comprehend nursing informatics, related skills and their applications.

Skills acquired from nursing informatics course would ensure that nurse administrators have the necessary skills for their diverse roles (Axley, 2008). This would enhance service delivery and the use of technology in healthcare facilities. Nursing students can only get the required skills and knowledge from competent educators. Therefore, nurse educators need to understand nurse informatics courses in order to prepare their students effectively. This will ensure that students might function appropriately in the information driven healthcare system.

Why the course topic was chosen

The course topic chosen for nursing students is an introductory course in Computer Competency (Nursing Informatics). Computer technologies have introduced several methods to teach nursing students and deliver nursing contents. Therefore, as times change in nursing practices and teaching, technological changes have been the major drivers of disease detection and prevention. According to Hamilton-Hill (2009), technologies have become extensively embedded in modern healthcare systems. These changes have resulted into a greater demand for quality care at affordable prices and accountability in the healthcare sector. It is therefore imperative for nurses and other healthcare professionals to adopt and use various IT systems in their jobs to enhance optimal outcomes for patients and nurses.

According to Bassendowski, et al. (2011), the use of IT in healthcare deliver could reduce cases of medical errors. This requires nursing students to have informatics competencies obtained through training. Hence, IT should be a part of the course curricula to enhance safety and support evidence-based practices. Many healthcare professionals may not have basic skills and knowledge required to use different IT platforms. For these healthcare professionals to integrate IT skills and knowledge in their practices, they require IT basic skills, which should be taught in their nursing courses. This has been a major challenge, particularly for many professionals who lacked these skills or did not embrace IT during their training. IT continues to disrupt the healthcare sector and service delivery.

This course topic would ensure that nursing students bridge the knowledge gap in basic computer literacy skills required in a rapidly changing environment. Dykes and Collins (2013) noted that IT should link patient care and outcomes. Hence, the course topic would ensure that nurses acquire skills that go beyond a mere use of computer, but demonstrate competencies in protecting patient privacy in electronic health records, keeping accurate records of patient information, using different software applications, administering medications and communicating effectively with other professionals.

Method of content delivery

The course content will be delivered through the traditional mode or online mode for distance learners. The traditional mode of content delivery shall be used to facilitate face-to-face interaction with learners. The course content would be designed to be learner-centered rather than teacher-centered.

The course contents would also be delivered through online learning. Students and educators who are not able to conduct classroom learning because of distance or time would be able to use information technologies to connect and overcome such learning barriers. Online instruction design would focus on contents to transcend the classroom environment to support nursing students who will have extra responsibilities of learning and enhancing meaningful engagement with contents to overcome challenges of separation from the teacher.

The class would be designed to take place in real time or later. The classroom would be synchronous distance learning. It will take place live and involves chat sessions. On the other hand, asynchronous mode should ensure that nursing students might learn in a self-paced mode. It must account for the content design, course delivery, students’ interaction with both the educator and other learners.

The main advantage of online mode of delivery is that the instructor and learners can overcome the challenge of distance and time. Hence, learning opportunities would be available to all learners irrespective of regions, time or distance. Learners would learn in the most convenient environments for them. Nursing students may opt for credit courses or the whole curricula through online or classroom delivery methods. The course would be available for online students in a consistent manner throughout the entire period of learning.

What students will learn and achieve in this course

After completing an introductory course in Computer Competency, nursing students are expected to demonstrate several learning outcomes. First, nursing students are expected to be able to use information and communication technologies to record and assess patient quality of care, promote patient education and care accessibility at any location or time (Bassendowski, et al., 2011). Nursing students must be able to record patient vital signs and other data using clinical information systems (Dowding, Turley, & Garrido, 2011). These are fundamental basic computer skills that nurses should possess. Nurses may also develop technical aptitude as they handle technical aspects of their jobs. Further training, work experiences and comprehension of different aspects of the job will ensure that nurses can offer solutions or suggestions to some issues.

Second, nursing students must be able to use IT to enhance own knowledge base. For instance, learners should be able to conduct literature search successfully. Skills to communicate through e-mails and write well-supported messages are vital in this course. They would demonstrate competencies when communicating with other professionals through electronic communication modes (Choi & De Martinis, 2013). Learners would demonstrate skills to respond to a group of senders and conduct online chat forums after this course.

Third, nursing students will achieve critical thinking and writing skills to prepare them for nursing roles. Nursing students shall bring unique informatics skills to patient care. The course would prepare them to think critically about patient problems and analyze issues depending on students’ knowledge, skills and experiences. Students must develop skills to demonstrate and accept technical functionality. They must also criticize content validity based on patient safety issues and clinical workflow designs. Nursing students shall be able to apply both clinical and theoretical knowledge to assess various interactive health technologies and resources. They shall be able to review health information accuracy.

A course in informatics should prepare nursing students to develop competencies in clinical areas. Students are required to develop certain amount of knowledge in clinical areas to understand the relevance of nursing informatics and its application in the field. Such knowledge and skills will ensure that nurses can act with confidence when making important decisions for patient care and nurse management. Nursing students are expected to complete the gap between nursing practices and technical issues in IT (Dykes & Collins, 2013).

Finally, the course topic would also equip nursing students with interpersonal skills. In most cases, nurses have learned how interpersonal skills are vital for their profession. Nursing students would be able to acquire these skills during the course. The course requires nurses to communicate effectively through different channels. Nursing students must understand aspects of interpersonal communication skills when interacting with patients, their families and other healthcare stakeholders.

The nursing informatics course topic – Computer Competency shall support nurses and patients as they rely on different information technology platforms to process information.

Course Goals

The goal of this course is:

  • To introduce nursing students to the basic informatics concepts used in both personal and professionals areas
  • To use various IT platforms to conduct research and apply findings to nurse practices and patient care
  • To promote nurse interaction and socialization with colleagues
  • To apply different methods of content delivery (traditional and online) in teaching nursing students
  • To promote the development of various skills in IT among nursing students

Description

Given various challenges related to the use of information technologies that current nurses face in their roles, it is imperative for nurse educators to integrate nursing informatics in the nurse curricula. On this regard, an introductory course in nursing informatics is appropriate for nursing students. Computer Competency for nursing students is designed for new nursing students. The course topic would prepare students to face the dynamics of a nursing practice environment. It accounts for rapid changes in IT and applications used in the healthcare environment.

The course educator will also identify critical areas in which minimum competency skills are vital for nurses. Nursing students will have the required skills and knowledge for their future careers as registered nurses. The course strives to establish a standard for nursing informatics curriculum by integrating contents into nursing practices.

The course would empower nursing students in the use of information technologies in nursing and assist them to improve patient care outcomes and nursing practices.

Nursing informatics course will ensure that students understand the relationship between information technologies and healthcare provision. Students will understand core areas in nursing informatics. First, the use of nursing concepts established in IT to support nursing care provisions based on evidence-based outcomes and research. Second, the use of data and communication platforms to create data oriented approaches to support decision-making processes. Third, nursing students would understand various research methodologies that might be applied to generate new knowledge for nursing practices. In addition, nursing students shall be able to understand how to collect patient information, retrieve and distribute to support nursing care. Fourth, students will be able to resolve certain communication challenges from IT and tackle inter-professional communications and workflow management across different nursing units. Fifth, nursing students will have opportunities to design, develop and implement new information platforms. Finally, students will have chances to evaluate existing IT policies, healthcare policies and propose new ones to advance healthcare outcomes.

Nursing informatics courses must reflect realities of nursing environments. In this regard, nursing informatics course approaches the subject from diverse perspectives to ensure that nurses have a broader view and critical insights for various healthcare issues.

Nursing students shall learn the following:

  • Basic computer skills related to administration, communication, patient data collection and access, documentation and monitoring
  • Software used in healthcare settings
  • Informatics areas such as data security and patient safety, policies, procedures, standards and application of IT in healthcare environments for improved outcomes and patient safety

Objectives, competencies or expectations

This course will ensure that nursing students possess the necessary skills applicable in nursing practices.

  • Students shall demonstrate skills in using technologies to deliver services to patients and use information systems to communicate in healthcare environments
  • Use technologies to communicate in different settings
  • Review data from different sources and apply collected data in decision-making
  • Understand healthcare terminologies used in healthcare environments
  • Demonstrate the importance of IT in enhancing patient care outcomes and nurse roles
  • Uphold data integrity, security, confidentiality, ethical standards, regulatory conditions and patient’s rights to privacy
  • Use healthcare technologies to address different challenges in the healthcare sector

Conclusion

There are profound influences of technologies in nurse education and nursing practices. Information access, changes and its availability on various platforms require nursing students and nurses to be efficient in nursing informatics in modern healthcare environments. The need for such a curriculum is driven by the desire to offer safe and effective healthcare outcomes and reduce nurse workload and burnouts. In this regard, the design of the nursing course topic of Nursing Informatics would ensure that nursing students achieve these critical outcomes. First, acquire basic knowledge for utilizing IT platforms. Second, review information available online for past, current and possible future practices. Third, facilitate the use of online mode of learning. Finally, students will understand the relevance and purpose of ensuring data security in a paperless environment. It is believed that the course topic shall provide the required knowledge to equip future nurses with the skills for their roles.

References

American Nurses Association. (2008). Nursing informatics: Scope and standards of practice. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.

Axley, L. (2008). The Integration of Technology into Nursing Curricula: Supporting Faculty via the Technology Fellowship Program. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 13(3).

Bassendowski, S., Petrucka, P., Breitkreuz, L., Mantesso, J., MacDougall, L., Hanson, B., Ayers, K. (2011). Integration of Technology to Support Nursing Practice: A Saskatchewan Initiative. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 15(2), 635.

Choi, J., & De Martinis, J. (2013). Nursing informatics competencies: assessment of undergraduate and graduate nursing students. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 22(13- 14), 1970–1976.

Dowding, D., Turley, M., & Garrido, T. (2011). The impact of an electronic health record on nurse sensitive patient outcomes: an interrupted time series analysis. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 19(4), 615-620.

Dykes, P., & Collins, S. (2013). Building Linkages between Nursing Care and Improved Patient Outcomes: The Role of Health Information Technology. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 18(3), Manuscript 4.

Hamilton-Hill, S. (2009). Nursing’s Problematic Informatics. Web.

National League for Nursing. (2008). Preparing the Next Generation of Nurses to Practice in a Technology-Rich Environment: An Informatics Agenda. Web.