Assessment of Informatics Competencies Nursing Students

Submitter Information

Author: Paula Jarzemsky, MS, RN
Title: Clinical Professor
Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Coauthors: Diana Girdley, MSN, RN Mary Ellen Murray, PhD, RN Stephen Douglas, MSN, RN

Competency Category(s)
Evidence-Based Practice, Informatics

Learner Level(s)
Pre-Licensure ADN/Diploma, Pre-Licensure BSN, RN to BSN

Learner Setting(s)

Strategy Type

Learning Objectives

Describe examples of how technology and information management are related to the quality and safety of patient care.
Appreciate the necessity for all health professionals to seek lifelong, continuous learning of information technology skills
Value technologies that support clinical decision-making, error prevention, and care coordination
Use high quality electronic sources of healthcare information

Strategy Overview

While information technology abounds in the nursing workplace, many students don’t perceive that they are receiving sufficient formal education about its application in health care (Maag, 2006). Prior to hearing a presentation on nursing informatics in a required nursing fundamentals lecture course, first-semester undergraduate nursing students were asked to complete a 35-item self-assessment of informatics competencies. The purpose of the survey was to assess students’ competence and attitudes related to informatics and information retrieval. Items were developed from a research-based, master list of informatics competencies for the beginning-level nurse, as defined in the work of Staggers et al (2002). The list essentially outlined how nurses relate to technology in their workplace, i.e. for purposes of administration, communication, data access, documentation, client education, monitoring, quality improvement and research. In addition, it identified a nurse’s obligation to learn how to protect privacy and security of protected health information. Specifically, students rated their knowledge, skill and use of computer applications for these purposes using a Likert scale of 1 to 5 (1 = very little and 5 = very much). Next, students were asked how often they accessed particular information sources, using a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = never and 5 = often/daily). These items replicated a national survey which examined the readiness of practicing nurses to access evidence-based information sources for best clinical practices (Pravikoff et al, 2005).

Submitted Materials


Additional Materials

Evaluation Description

Survey results were shared during the presentation and stimulated an interesting discussion about the group’s self-reported competence and attitudes related to informatics and information retrieval. Students seemed to engage with the topic on a more personal level by reflecting on their knowledge, skills and experience with informatics. In general, the survey helped to raise awareness about how often nurses encounter information technology. Students were encouraged to recognize opportunities to build upon informatics and information literacy skills as part of their remaining clinical education.
Note: I asked clinical faculty and staff nurses from their units to review the survey and received feedback that survey items could be clarified by adding specific examples of various technologies mentioned – shown here, but not included on my original survey. It will be important to adapt items to individual clinical settings, using relevant examples.