Clinical Education Using an Interactive Health Information Booth
Globally, use of the Internet for health care information is on the rise. An innovative learning activity that addresses Internet use for health information is an interactive health information literacy booth. This activity provides students with clinical experience to improve their information and communication technology skills. Information and communication technology skills developed through this activity connect to clinical outcomes (i.e., communication), nursing program student outcomes (i.e., nursing reasoning, managing information, communication), and American Association of Colleges of Nursing Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice (1998) outcomes (i.e., health promotion, illness and disease management, information and health care technologies, role development).
A week prior to the health fair, junior-level nursing students were given instruction for developing online health information literacy skills. They were told to realize a need for health information, identify search-able questions, go online to gather and evaluate quality information, organize and synthesize this information, and then develop a plan to use it (Elfrink, Bakken, Coenen, McNeil, & Bickford, 2001).
Students were also given a Web site evaluation tool. The health-related Web site evaluation tool (Robbins, 2005) awards points for content, accuracy, authorship, audience, navigation, and external links. A score of 90 or more was considered excellent, a score of 75 was adequate, and a score of 75 or less was poor. The students used an open computer laboratory to practice filling out this tool.
Junior-level nursing students were supervised by a clinical nursing professor. Students staffed a booth equipped with several laptop computers connected to the Internet. Each computer had two chairs in front of it—one for the student and one for the attendee. The nursing students’ role was to help health fair attendees conduct online research on health-related questions.
The annual university health fair is an interdisciplinary approach to health and wellness. Approximately 800 to 1,000 students and faculty visit the fair every year to engage in health promotion education and physical assessments, including bone density, blood pressure, spinal alignment, body compositions, and blood sugars. The health fair is held in the ballroom of the university student union building and is well advertised to the campus and the local community.
First, the students observed the professor as a role model. Then the students engaged health fair attendees, interacted with them to determine the client’s health information interests, helped the client navigate the Internet to gather information, and helped the client evaluate the quality of this information by using the tool.
The professor observed and helped students improve their health literacy and information and communication technology skills. By the end of the fair, all of the students were able to effectively and competently access and evaluate health information. Response to this innovation from both the participants and the nursing students was overwhelmingly positive. Students reported that they were not confident at first but this practice helped them gain confidence in themselves and their nursing skills. This booth has been requested at other functions, such as the local community center and county health clinics. Research implications include analysis of health topics of interest, Web site evaluation results, and pedagogical implications for further learning activity development.
Using the Internet to access health information has become an important skill that can be used to measure several clinical outcomes. One teaching-learning strategy that can be used to develop that skill is the use of an interactive health information booth in community wellness settings. Preparation for the experience should include a laboratory session during which students learn how to develop a question, information literacy skills to find the answers to the question, and a method to evaluate the quality of the information found. By providing students with real-life opportunities to use health information literacy skills, clinical instructors can promote personal growth, self-esteem, and clinical competence and confidence.