To the Editor:
After reading the article titled “Graduating Nurses’ Self-Evaluation of Information Technology Competencies” by Marilyn S. Fetter in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Nursing Education (Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 86–90), I was compelled to express my appreciation of the article and its content. Through a well-researched and scientific approach, the article spoke of the need for an improvement in the instruction, expectation, and evaluation of informatics in baccalaureate nursing (BSN) education. As a senior in a BSN program, I can say from my own observation, as well as current research, that informatics in nursing education is not being fully used, defined, or valued. Fetter (2009) reported:
Nursing programs have embraced distance learning and added informatics content, courses, and specific technologies; however, undergraduates’ and educators’ skills are still considered inadequate.
My experience has included computerized simulation laboratories, exposure to online databases, journal acquisition, practice NCLEX-RN®
examinations, and limited access to computerized systems in some clinical facilities. These systems include a focus on medication administration, laboratory results, orders, and records. I was fortunate to gain exposure to these systems, but I must say for the most part, the informatics-focused exposure was incidental and not a prioritized component of my education.
In an ever-increasing environment using evidence-based care, computerized administration, and preventative health promotion-based research development, informatics needs to be defined, with expectations and time-defined goals, to improve patient care and satisfaction and RN education at the BSN level. Innovative use of technology with computerized systems are available but, in my opinion, could be used in a more effective manner throughout the core subjects. While increasing exposure to the innovative use and development of informatics in nursing practice, we can better prepare our infrastructure and foundation for patient-focused care, while saving time and money, as well as making an environmental impact. According to Blake (2008):
The capabilities and accessibility of new technologies have been recognized in preventing, diagnosing, monitoring and treating disease, and in the development and delivery of preventive measures and proactive health promotion programmes.
Any of us can be trained to use a computer, but the appropriate framework and creative use of technology in nursing research, education, and patient care can be a powerful tool in the hands of a generation of new nurses. I would like to see a national promotion of informatics use and education in nursing. I am inspired to improve my own understanding and use of informatics to improve my nursing practice, but the majority of this will come after my graduation. Although it is realistic to expect a limited allocation of informatics in the comprehensive and time-strapped environment of a BSN program, it would serve well to have more clearly defined expectations and a solid foundation of understanding for new nurses.