December 13, 2006

Core Competencies of Nurse Educators

The NLN has posted a report based on a literature review of the core competencies of nurse educators. This may be a useful tool in the evaluation of an educator's performance. It is also useful for some self-evaluation. Are you doing all you can do as a nurse educator to advance your students and the profession?

November 10, 2006

Choosing handheld computer software

I am frequently asked what software to put on a student's handheld computer for clinical use. My advice is to get a drug guide, a lab test guide, a medical dictionary, and generic guide to nursing assessment and documentation. A clinical specialty title is also a good addition where needed. Which specific titles to choose? I always look for a free trial version. These let you see if the interface is intuitive and the information useful. If you are deciding for others I suggest getting a group of faculty and students to try several competing titles at the same time. For example, load three drugs on three different handhelds and then try them. Most all the commercial titles are pretty good, just go with the one you like. After you choose the commercial titles you can then search through the hundreds of freeware and shareware clinical applications!

October 22, 2006

NLN/Carnegie Foundation Survey of Nurse Educators

The National League for Nursing and the Carnegie Foundation are conducting a survey of nurse educators on compensation, workload, and teaching practices. After completing the survey you will get a link for a 10% discount on some NLN books. This survey will give important information to those investigating how to retain faculty, improve working conditions, and promote best practices in teaching.

October 8, 2006

Are nursing education researchers fooling themselves?

Dr. David Singer of MIT has created a very interesting list of things that educators fool themselves about when assessing education. Some particularly important things mentioned are that we should not just look at mean changes but also the changes of students at the low and high ends of a group. Another concern is that collaborative and interactive learning may counterproductive for some students. He also notes that the effects of technology on learning are not only hard to measure, but that learning itself is hard to define.

October 6, 2006

A meta-theory of nursing

Olga Jarrin of the University of Connecticut has proposed a meta-theory of nursing that is quite intriguing. She presents a very cogent synthesis of existing nursing theories. I think this has potential for guiding nursing curricular frameworks. Download the paper here and see what you think.

September 27, 2006

Multiple Choice Tests: A-Great, B-OK, C-Overused

The correct answer is C

It is very common in nursing programs to evaluate students' learning primarily with multiple-choice exams. The reason for this is often stated that because the NCLEX-RN exam is multiple-choice then we should also. I have concerns about trying too closely to follow the NCLEX-RN exam model. They have the advantage of a huge population to pretest all questions, and a large group of contributors to the test question pool. Our use of multiple choice is more for testing efficiency more than emulation of the Board exam. To truly test learning we should be using different types of evaluation: essays, open book, short answer, concept mapping, etc. I've always thought to continue to use multiple choice because "that what the boards are" does our students a disservice in promoting limited ways of learning, and limited ways of demonstrating learning. I have yet to meet a patient with A, B, C, D on his chest. The Board exam may be multiple choice but my hypothesis is that a student who has good depth of knowledge (previously evaluated through multiple methods) can prepare for the boards with exam practice as he or she nears graduation.

June 5, 2006

A Healthful Work Environment

The NLN has posted a Healthful Work Environment Toolkit for nurse educators. Try to answer the questions about your workplace. The answers may help you set goals that will improve recruitment and retention.

May 7, 2006

Choosing a textbook is a guessing game

Every semester nursing faculty select texts for the next semester. We would like to think we are providing our students with a tool that will be better than the competing tools. We read them, look at the pictures, graphs, and charts. We sample the student and instructor CDs and ask the publisher's rep lots of questions. But in the end it is really just a guess if one book is better than another. We really can't compare two identical groups of students and see who learned more from one book or the other. In education research on such a question there are too many variables to control. In the end, nursing faculty must make their text decisions based on their best guess as to what materials students will like and learn from.

April 24, 2006

AACN Nursing School Preparedness Survery

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is conducting a survey of nursing school's disaster preparedness. The survey only takes a few minutes to complete. Access the survey at Disaster Preparedness Survey . Survey closes April 28.

April 13, 2006

NLN Nursing Faculty Research Funding Survey

The NLN Task Group on Funding for Nursing Education Research is asking for nursing faculty assistance. They have posted a survey on traditional and non-traditional sources of public and private funding.

The Task Group statement: "The NLN’s position statement, Funding for Nursing Education Research, identifies an urgent need to provide significant funds to support research that will build the science of nursing education. In order to achieve this goal, scholars must have substantial funding from federal, state, regional, local, institutional, and organizational programs to support their lines of investigation. Your feedback on this survey will assist our task group to create an online repository that will help novice through advanced researchers locate funding sources."

The survey is posted until May 15 at Survey on Funding for Nursing Education Research

April 9, 2006

NLN Nursing Informatics Survey of Faculty & Administrators

The Task Force on Informatics Competencies of the NLN’s Educational Technology and Information Management Advisory Council (ETIMAC) has posted a survey to see how nurses are being prepared for practice that requires the use of informatics. If you are a nursing faculty member please spend 15 minutes to take the Faculty Survey, while deans, directors, or chairs can take the Administrators Survey. [Survey closes on April 12, 2006]

April 8, 2006

Remind me again why we rely on memory?

It has been traditional in nursing education to emphasize memorization. Students must memorize anatomical parts, drugs and their uses and effects, pathophysiologic changes with disease, lab values, diagnostic testing procedures, et cetera, et cetera. Often what is required to be committed to memory will change over time as research reveals new information. So why do we continue to require so much memorization? The standard answer is that nurses must have that information to make decisions quickly. But what happens when memory fades, or only parts of what was memorized is recalled? I believe it is better for nurses to learn how to find information as they need it. Information that is frequently needed will soon be committed to memory, but they would also realize the limits of memory.

In the past we looked up information in texts. Texts are efficient for storage but not so fast for retrieval (or easy to carry). Electronic texts such as a drug guide for a handheld computer are easy to carry and very easy to access. Nursing educators must teach students to use such resources, then evaluate students on the quality of their application (rather than recall) of knowledge.

April 5, 2006

Adult Learners or Any Learners?

It is popular in nursing education to refer to Knowles' Adult Learner principles in teaching. But are any of these principles unique to adults? Couldn't you just as easily replace "adult" with "child" in teaching? Sometimes these principles are used by nurse educators to differentiate their teaching methods for returning adult students or BSN for RN students from the young adult students out of high school. However, aren't encouraging "self-direction", "seeing relevancy", "using past learning", and "showing respect" teaching methods to be used any student? "Adult" learning principles seem to make the assumption that non-adult students should learn by rote and that grades are their only motivation to learn. Teachers from K through College should be using these supposedly adult principles.

April 4, 2006

Is nursing education unique?

Is nursing education a unique form of education? I think it is. Professional education of any kind requires both cognitive and affective learning. You need to learn not only ABOUT nursing, but also how to BE a nurse. Nursing is also unique among the allied health professions in that it covers a very broad area of knowledge. Almost anything dealing with health and illness, both physical and mental is subject to nursing care. And there's that word care. Many professions care, but caring has a special meaning in nursing. Nurses see caring almost as an intervention, not just having concern for the well-being of others.

April 3, 2006

Welcome to Nursing Educator

I have been teaching nursing for over 20 years. I teach pediatric nursing, nursing informatics, and community nursing. My main interest is in bringing technology to nursing practice and nursing education. Technology has always been part of nursing assessment but only recently have nurses begun to use it to augment practice. Medicine and nursing education have traditionally emphasized memorization in learning. I believe that there is too much for anyone to memorize. Students need to learn how to find information as they need it. Technology offers a way for this access through handheld computers, formally called PalmPilots or Personal Digital Assistants. This blog will be a place to explore these ideas of how technology can complement nursing practice.