McMaster University

McMaster University

Nursing team wins Education Innovations Award

Interviewed by Guylaine Spencer
Published: July 5, 2016
Ruth Chen
Ruth Chen, Associate Professor, School of Nursing

A team led by Dr. Ruth Chen, Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at McMaster University, recently won the Faculty of Health Sciences “Education Innovations Award”. The award comes with a two-year grant, with $20,000 provided each year. The team will develop a Web app to help nursing students develop Entry-to-Practice competencies in pediatric nursing.

Below, Dr. Chen discusses the project.

Congratulations on the award! What does it mean to win this?

Thank you. It was a honor to win this award. There were many applications submitted across all departments in the Faculty of Health Sciences; we feel very fortunate.

What are you going to do with the award?

This award will allow us to help develop our undergraduate students’ pediatric nursing competencies based on the College of Nurses of Ontario's Entry to Practice Competencies framework for Registered Nurses. The Education Innovations Award provides us with some funding to develop, test, and evaluate a Web app that students in levels 3 and 4 will be able to use to develop their pediatric nursing competencies.

Who is working on the project?

I am the Principal Investigator and we have Co-investigators Amy Palma, the Level 3 Lead in the School of Nursing undergraduate program, and Dianne Norman, the Manager of Student Affairs and Academic Relations at Hamilton Health Sciences. Amy and Dianne have extensive pediatric teaching and clinical experience and I have pediatric experience as a Nurse Practitioner and clinical tutor. We have a great team.

We have funding to hire an instructional designer to support the project. However, I also have experience developing Web apps, so that was part of my motivation for proposing this approach in our award application. We would be working with the instructional designer to make sure that the pediatric content is formatted and delivered to students in a user-friendly way.

How are you developing the app?

We are taking the CNO’s Entry-to-Practice (ETP) Competencies framework that has 100 competencies subsumed under five competency categories. Pediatric nursing content, readings, and exercises will be directly tied to the five competency categories. For example, one of the categories of the ETP Competencies is Knowledge-based Practice. In pediatric nursing, students must make a shift in their understanding and recognize that children are not simply "small adults". As a pediatric nurse, you must be able to calculate maintenance fluid rates and medications based on a child's weight and you must monitor weight-based outputs accordingly. The Web app would provide students the opportunity to develop this particular competency; it would first guide students through required content knowledge, and then provide exercises where students could practice calculating maintenance rates, for example. There would be other exercises around effective team communication. We have videos that show team communication during pediatric resuscitations. The students would review these videos through the Web app. They would be asked to identify, for example, the different team members and describe the strengths of their communication. This exercise would help students review several team communication competencies that fall under the Professional Responsibility and Accountability category.

Overall, the Web app will be developed to provide students opportunities for repetitive practice and for mixed (or interleaved) practice, both of which are supported in the literature as being effective for skill acquisition and expertise development.

Why is this tool needed?

We initially came up with this idea of the pediatric Web app because we have so many students who want to have a clinical placement on a pediatric nursing unit, but we simply don’t have enough placements to meet the demand. We thought we could supplement what students are learning in the curriculum by giving them access to the Web app. We also want to evaluate our students' performance on the HESI to see if use of the Web app improves performance on this computer-adaptive test in pediatric content areas.

When do you expect to have the tool ready?

We are on track to pilot a streamlined version of the Web app with students in the Winter 2017 term. After gathering our pilot data, we will refine the Web app over the Spring/Summer and roll out the updated version in Fall/Winter 2017/18.

If you have news to share, please contact spenceg@mcmaster.ca.

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