Journal of Nursing Education

Syllabus Selections: Innovative Learning Activities Free

Integration of Telehealth Policy Education Into an Existing Advanced Practiced Nurse Practitioner Policy Course

Katherine Chike-Harris, DNP, CPNP-PC, CNE; Kelli Garber, MSN, PPCNP-BC; Paula Brooks, DNP, FNP-BC; Amy Williams, DNP, CPNP-PC

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) mandates health care policy and advocacy within their accreditation requirements for advanced practice nursing education (AACN, 2006, 2011). These essential skills equip graduate nurses in advocacy, engagement, development, and evaluation of health care policy that influences future practice and the delivery of health care services to patients. In addition to gaining health care policy knowledge surrounding advanced practice nurse practitioner (APRN) practice, graduate nursing students must also have intimate knowledge regarding telehealth laws and policies, and how they affect their practice. Similar to the nonconformity of APRN practice acts between states, the ability to use a telehealth modality varies as well. Telehealth is an efficient and effective way to increase access to care and to extend the reach of health care beyond the walls of a traditional clinic. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought an unprecedented expansion of the use of telehealth across the care continuum. It is imperative that APRN students understand how telehealth is regulated and how those regulations affect the development of telehealth programs and the delivery of care via telehealth, which is supported by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF, 2018). This article describes how telehealth-specific ARPN laws and policies were seamlessly integrated into an existing graduate nursing health care policy and advocacy course.

Activity Description

A telehealth activity was integrated into an existing, required semester-long Advanced Health Policy and Advocacy course for graduate nursing students. This activity consisted of a self-paced telehealth module and an interactive online presentation. The telehealth module focused on policies, laws, and regulations related to telehealth, focusing on APRN practice. The first part of the telehealth activity consisted of a self-paced module that required no more than 90 minutes for the students to complete. The module was a pretest–posttest design based around a 35-minute prerecorded lecture. The lecture began with a high-level overview of telehealth and then covered key elements of telehealth policies, laws, and regulations. This was followed by a live interactive lecture provided through a videoconferencing platform with two guest speakers experienced in state-specific health care policy and advocacy regarding APRN practice and telehealth and concluded with a question-and-answer session. To date, the telehealth module has been offered to three cohorts of students (N = 263) that demonstrated an average 40.4% increase in knowledge based on the comparison of pre- and post-test scores. Student comments included “I definitely think the presentation was helpful…. It does make me realize just how much it will impact us as APRNs in the future,” and “The telehealth policy presentation was informative and beneficial for my current and future practice. It gave me a better understanding on the policies involving telehealth.”

Discussion

It is essential that APRNs have a clear understanding of how their scope of practice is defined by state laws and regulations. It is of equal importance to maintain knowledge of changes to laws and regulations that affect nursing practice, such as national trends of provision of telehealth services. Integrating this information into an existing health policy course facilitated a more thorough understanding of how telehealth policy is developed and how it affects the care provided by APRNs. This activity was used to model health care policy and advocacy work in real-time. This assignment demonstrated how telehealth health care policy and advocacy content can be incorporated into a large online course (between 60 and 100 students) in an engaging, interactive platform that models future practice to meet a portion of the AACN's (2006, 2011) Essentials for master's and doctoral education.

Katherine Chike-Harris, DNP, CPNP-PC, CNE
chikehar@musc.edu
Medical University of South Carolina
College of Nursing

Kelli Garber, MSN, PPCNP-BC
Medical University of South Carolina
The Center for Telehealth

Paula Brooks, DNP, FNP-BC
Baystate Health System

Amy Williams, DNP, CPNP-PC
Medical University of South Carolina
College of Nursing

References

Authors

This work was supported by the HRSA Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Grant #T94HP30872.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

chikehar@musc.edu

10.3928/01484834-20201217-13

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