NEW INFORMATICS CERTIFICATE PROGRAM INCORPORATES TECHNOLOGY INTO NURSING CARE
Information management isnt the first thing that springs to mind when the nursing field is mentioned, but it plays a vital role in the proper care of patients. Prompted by the increasing use of new technologies to keep track of the myriad data each patient generates, the College of Nursing developed a certificate program in informaticsa blend of computer, information, and nursing sciences that maximizes a nurses ability to keep patients healthy.
The state Department of Education recently approved a proposal for the graduate program, which is being developed by professors Eileen Lantier and Bobbie Harris. "Its important that students understand how information and computer sciences can interface with nursing science to provide better care for clients," Lantier says, "whether that involves teaching clients to take care of themselves, helping them evaluate their own health, or providing supportive care in an institution or hospital."
In addition to viewing interaction with clients from a therapeutic standpoint, Lantier says, nursing students should intuitively consider the importance of gathering data on those clients. "Nurses may collect 400 different data pointspieces of informationabout their patients in a day," she says. "We can take those data points and process them, through computer and information sciences, to answer such questions as which particular nursing strategies were most helpful, which were not helpful, and why."
Lantier says once the informatics program is implemented, it will deal with the basics of information technology, preparing nurses to both use and develop information systems. "I look at nursing informatics from two fronts," she says. "One is how we prepare beginning nurses to enter the health care domain with strong technological skills. The other is using technology as a tool in educationa way to involve students right away with the notion that technology is part of everyday life." Lantier does this in her current undergraduate classes, where students read the online version of The Washington Post health section for four weeks, selecting three interesting topics each week. They then choose three of those topics and research them through medical journals. "It engages students in the world of information, and they see what the general public is reading about, what the health concerns are," Lantier says. "These are the issues citizens want information on and nurses need to be informed about." Lantier also uses electronic bulletin boards for her classes, allowing students to post messages that can be read by all. E-mail is used for those concerns best addressed in private.
Using such technologies may be second nature for avid computer users, but not necessarily for nursing students, she adds. "Anybody can use a computer, but the important thing is, how can it help you as a nurse? And how can you translate that into better care, better preparedness, when you interact with the public?"