Nursing informatics competencies: assessment of undergraduate and graduate nursing students

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Abstract

Aims and objectives

To report the informatics competencies of students in selected undergraduate and graduate nursing programmes, to examine whether informatics competencies differed between the different programmes and to suggest competency-based applications that will strengthen informatics courses and informatics-related content throughout the curricula.

Background

Nursing students in undergraduate and graduate nursing programmes have different educational backgrounds and different practice experience. Thus, their informatics preparation is apt to be varied, and nursing curricula must reflect this variation while advancing students towards informatics proficiency. However, studies on informatics competency assessment in these nursing students are scarce.

Design

A descriptive survey design.

Methods

Data were collected from 289 nursing students using a 30-item Self-Assessment of Nursing Informatics Competencies Scale via an email sent to students using a LISTSERV mailing list. The email embedded link to the Internet survey package, SurveyMonkey, which included the Self-Assessment of Nursing Informatics Competencies Scale and demographic questions along with an online consent form.

Results

Students in both programmes were competent in three subscale areas: basic computer knowledge and skills, clinical informatics attitude, and wireless device skills. Graduate students reported slightly higher mean competency scores than did undergraduate students in three subscales: clinical informatics role, clinical informatics attitude and wireless device skills.

Conclusions

Findings indicate specific topics for nurse educators to consider when designing informatics curricula. The comparison of undergraduate and graduate students indicates similarities in informatics competencies in terms of areas where students were competent and small mean score differences. Further studies are suggested to examine whether there are differences in informatics competencies between undergraduate and graduate students.

Relevance to clinical practice

These results assist nurse educators in determining specific areas of informatics content that need greater focus and inclusion in the design of better nursing educational programmes. Examples of integrating competencies into existing curriculum or informatics courses are suggested.

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