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
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).