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Technology’s Role in Nursing Education

As technology in nursing and medicine has increased, so has technology’s role in nursing education. Nursing students may have access to online education, live and web-based simulations, apps, reference guides, and electronic textbooks on mobile devices.

“Technology also has the power to transform teaching by ushering in a new model of connected teaching,” according to the U.S. Department of Education. “This model links teachers to their students and to professional content, resources, and systems to help them improve their own instruction and personalize learning.”

Online Education

Perhaps one of the biggest changes brought by technology is the availability of online degree programs. These programs offer convenience and flexibility that can allow more people to pursue a degree. A working nurse can complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Administration or other online MSN programs without having to move and find a new job.

Online education operates through a Learning Management System (LMS). These software programs handle all facets of the e-learning process, including delivering content, handling registration for courses, and tracking and reporting. Nursing schools can chose from a number of different systems, each offering different features and benefits.

Simulated Environments

Another use of technology in nursing education is simulations with electronic, training mannequins. Instructors can program the mannequins to mimic scenarios nurses might see in clinical practice. Students can take vital signs and make decisions based on the mannequin’s symptoms. It is a safe environment where students can practice their critical thinking and decision-making skills, knowing the mannequin will not stay dead if it dies, according to an article at Advance for Nurses.

While mannequins require a physical presence, online virtual realities can simulate patients as well. Using screen-based simulation such as serious gaming, a nursing student can respond to simulated patients in real-time using the appropriate tools and procedures. Companies make virtual simulation software to help educate nurses and other healthcare professionals like the flight simulation software that helps train aircraft pilots.

The emerging use of game-based learning has the same benefits of learning in a simulated environment. However, “games have the advantage of providing much more complex scenarios than are possible in laboratory simulation exercises,” according to a MedScape article. “In games, the learner can travel down an infinite number of paths that have been determined through the rules integrated into the game engine.”

Mobile Technology

The use of mobile technology in nursing gives students (and working nurses) instant access to drug references, diagnoses, medical textbooks and more using apps and online guides on smartphones and tablets. “These devices are becoming more important in the health care environment with an advantage of providing a compendium of drug, nursing procedures and treatments, and disease information to nursing students,” according to a study published in the Fall 2015 issue of The ABNF Journal.

Nursing programs vary in the type of technology they use, and they introduce new technology almost daily. No doubt the future will bring more technological ways to enhance the educational process for nurses while also improving patient safety.

Learn more about the UT Arlington online RN to MSN program.

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