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At the UC College of Nursing, iPads help prepare future nurses for connected clinical settings

  • Lanier Norville By

Nurses must keep up with changes in technology throughout their careers. It is now common procedure to fill primary care providers’ orders and log patient records electronically on tablets and PCs, and nurses must treat patients with an ever-increasing array of connected medical devices. When patient safety is on the line, technical literacy is a requirement. And at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing, that requirement begins in the classroom.

To ensure nursing graduates are prepared to enter the modern clinical environment, UC Nursing faculty members and instructional designers have redesigned course delivery around mobile technology. Faculty and staff launched the school’s iPad program in 2013 making the College of Nursing the first program at the University of Cincinnati to successfully integrate tablets into education.

According to the program website, the program “facilitates content generation, collaboration and communication both online and onsite for students and faculty.” AirWatch-managed iPads give students secure access to course materials, ebooks, learning apps and grade information.

When students are in clinical environments, IT administrators are working to set a geofence using AirWatch to disable camera and video functions on iPads. Students will still use the iPads to access reference materials without the risk of violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA requires healthcare providers to protect patient privacy on mobile devices. AirWatch MDM helps the UC College of Nursing meet HIPAA recommendations, such as the ability to encrypt or remotely wipe information on mobile devices.

The same technologies enable remote professors to use FaceTime to safely demonstrate live simulated patient care scenarios and procedures to a class. By using FaceTime, students and professors can watch one another and provide feedback in real time.

Melissa Wilson, MSN, APRN, CCNS-BC, has found a use for FaceTime in an advanced medical-surgical course. The class requires students to spend time in the simulation lab, which is designed to mimic a clinical setting with hospital beds, medical equipment and even simulated patients. Nurses in training must treat patient simulator mannequins for lifelike conditions that can improve or deteriorate based on care – the mannequins exhibit human-like conditions such as  vomiting, spurting blood or going into cardiac arrest. Meanwhile, peers in the classroom use FaceTime on their iPads to watch, dictate care procedures and help the lab team respond appropriately.

In addition to viewing and interacting with the simulated patient scenario via FaceTime, students use their iPads to gain real-time access to the patients’ health records through Docucare,™ an electronic health record system. In this system, a student can access the simulated patient health records for items such as a previous nursing assessment, lab reports and X-rays. Students also use apps such as Nursing Central™ to evaluate the proper medication or interventions that could be used to treat the presenting symptom.

Wilson says the iPads have made a significant difference in the level of engagement and collaboration among students during lab practice. As students instructed a small group caring for the simulated patient in the lab, “I had to calm the class down at one point,” she says. “You could feel the tension in the room increase because they felt so connected to the patient care simulation.”

The iPad program offers students who move onto the school’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program invaluable opportunity. DNPs usually go on to become clinical leaders, and as such are expected to help lead technology implementation. Willmarth says the iPad program helps get students excited about technology such as electronic medical records.

“In addition, we’re encouraging an older generation of learners to embrace the technology and engage younger generations to lead and implement best practices related to technology,” Willmarth says.

For more information about UC College of Nursing’s mobile deployment with AirWatch, read the case study.

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Lanier Norville

Lanier Norville

Lanier Norville has been writing and editing for online publications for six years. Before joining AirWatch, she was the editor of three medical technology magazines including the award-winning publication TechNation.

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