“International Nursing Day”: Research project at the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences promoting digital skills in training ›WIR

“International Nursing Day”: Research project at the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences promoting digital skills in training ›WIR

Nurse Sarah Palmdorf is an assistant professor in the “DiFuSiN” project at the Department of Health (Photo: P.Pollmeier / Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences)

May 12 is dedicated to the millions of people who work in caring professions around the world – essential, demanding and changing. As the use of digital technologies creates new requirements which are now reflected in the new Bachelor’s module.

Bielefeld (fhb). Celebrating Florence Nightingale’s birthday, Nursing Day on May 12 annually commemorates the achievements of nurses around the world. But a lot has changed since the life of probably the most famous nurse. Smartphone apps, smart sensors, and videophone can improve care in the long run – if caregivers know how to use them wisely. How does digitalisation affect the nursing profession? How are nursing processes changing? And what are the requirements for future nursing staff? Researchers Annika Behler and Sarah Palmdorf addressed these questions in the research project “DiFuSiN – Digital Future Skills in Nursing” at the Department of Health of the University of Applied Sciences (FH) in Bielefeld.

Objective: To create a bachelor’s degree module that will prepare the future nursing staff for the future requirements of the nursing profession – especially taking into account the changes brought about by digitization. The research project was established at the Educational and Healthcare Research Institute, and was led by Professors Christa Büker and Ęnne-Dörte Latteck.

Digitalisation presents the nursing staff with new challenges

Nursing processes and nursing activities are increasingly characterized by the use of digital technologies. Mobile devices are used for rounds, software is used for planning and documentation, and smart sensor technology helps monitor vital parameters such as blood pressure and heart rate. The use of these technologies places new demands on the nursing staff who must integrate these technical systems into their processes. Not only is media literacy a prerequisite for nursing activities, but also completely new competences are required, such as integrating data protection concerns into the processing of electronic patient data. Nevertheless, teaching digital skills in the nursing profession in existing nursing courses has so far played a subordinate role and is usually not included in the curricula.

“Carers’ digital skills have so far been a marginal issue,” remarks Sarah Palmdorf. The nursing scientist has already dealt with the tension between technology and nursing in a previous research project. “Thanks to the DiFuSiN project, we are now responding to current events and exploring what skills potential nursing staff needs to be taught to meet new challenges.” The result of this research work will then, in line with the goal, be a module of the same name “Digital Skills of the Future in Nursing”. It is to be offered in the sixth semester of the integrated undergraduate training in nursing.

The case scenarios are the means of choice for teaching future skills

There were three main aspects to consider when developing the module: first, the numerous possible uses for hardware such as tablets, smartphones and sensors, but also software solutions and applications that can support care. Secondly, the rapid pace of technical development necessitates rapid response to changes, and thirdly, very different application scenarios in different areas of care.

The new module therefore focuses not only on teaching media skills. Rather, future nursing staff should be able to recognize and understand the challenges of digitization in their professional areas of operation and deal with the situation flexibly. For this purpose, a case scenario format was chosen for the content of the module. In this case, specific situations are always used as examples to show how a particular technology can be used in a nursing activity. The starting point of the case scenarios are therefore situations of professional activities in which questions about new technologies play a role. Students should then work out solutions to these questions.

Annika Behler, who studied Education and Media: E-education and was responsible for the science and education perspective of the team, explains: “Students should consider what they can expect from technology in given situations. They should deal with the questions: How to use it and how to use technology to support the nursing process? ”. The case scenario format has several advantages: On the one hand, it enables students to learn clearly. , practical and independent way. On the other hand, the scenarios offer perspective starting points for dealing with future technologies.

The development of the module is characterized by an interdisciplinary and participatory approach

After reading the literature, the development of the module began, which was characterized by an interdisciplinary and participatory approach. In total, approximately 30 interviews were conducted with experts in the fields of technology, computing, education, health and nursing, and instructional design. In the field of nursing, interviews were conducted with experts in the field of nursing management, industry and graduates of nursing courses. Many different questions had to be answered: What technologies and systems are currently used in the care context and how are you using them? What are the requirements for the nursing staff? What learning concepts should be considered when creating the case scenarios?

The participation and interaction of different people and disciplines had a positive impact on the development of the module: “For me, the participatory approach was what was special about this project,” says Sarah Palmdorf. “The expert interviews had a significant impact on our approach, acquired competences and general content. From the experience of the experts, we were able to extract important information about the concept and design of the case scenarios. “

After the talks, case scenarios were thematically determined and developed. “In total, we have developed eight cases that address very different focal points of digitization in care,” reports Annika Behler. For example, the ‘Distance Dementia Care’ scenario concerns the possibility of remote support of dementia patients and their loved ones via videotelephony (telecare). Thus, support can be provided irrespective of location and, if necessary, faster than would have been possible without the technology.

Outpatient digital aids and blood sugar control apps

The Digital Records in Outpatient Care scenario addresses the extent to which processes in home and mobile care situations can be optimized by Mobile Documentation Assistants (MDAs). The emphasis here is on smartphones and the corresponding software solutions with which checklists can be processed and patient data can be easily assigned and saved.

In the ‘Checking blood glucose levels with the app’ scenario, prospective nurses look into how to monitor a patient’s blood glucose using a smartphone and its associated sensor. On the one hand, it simplifies the work of the nursing staff, and on the other, it enables patients to cope with vital signs on their own.

Digital teaching and learning scenarios and open educational resources

Now it was necessary to create appropriate teaching materials from specific case scenarios: The case scenarios were prepared in such a way that they could be processed on a computer in the form of digital teaching and learning scenarios. They are designed to work in a group so that future nursing staff can deal with the problems together.

In addition, the digital format favors the dissemination of research results: The case scenarios have been published on the new state web portal ORCA.nrw (NRW Open Resource Campus) as Open Educational Resources (OER) under a free license. They are therefore also available to other universities and can be used there to teach future nursing skills. At the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, the module will be implemented for the first time in the summer semester 2023 as part of an undergraduate course in nursing. The module is a unique selling point in the country, it is an example of a successful transfer of current scientific research into teaching. The “DiFuSiN” research project was completed at the end of 2021 after 1.5 years. It was financed by the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia in cooperation with the Stifterverband and Digitale Hochschule NRW under the program: Curriculum 4.0.nrw.

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