With the growing usage of technology and mobile clinical decision support, the subject of nursing informatics is a hot topic in the nursing world and has become a popular specialty among nursing students. Nursing informatics combines nursing science with computer science together with information processing theory and technology. It is the integration of nursing and information management with communication technology to support the health of patients worldwide.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines nursing informatics as "a specialty that integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information and knowledge in nursing practice. Nursing informatics facilitates the integration of data, information and knowledge to support patients, nurses and other providers in their decision-making in all roles and settings. This support is accomplished through the use of information structures, information processes, and information technology."
There is a growing emphasis on the importance of nursing informatics competencies in nursing schools. A few studies to date have reported nursing students’ informatics competencies and patients’ safety competencies, but not their relationship.
Recent research conducted by the College of Nursing, Al Ahsa, King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz University for Health Sciences, Saudi Arabia, assessed the relationship between nursing informatics and patient safety competencies among undergraduate nursing students and nursing interns.
In the study, published in the November 2015 issue of CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 154 participants (99 nursing students and 55 interns) completed a survey titled “Self-assessment of Nursing Informatics Competencies and Patient Safety Competencies.”
‘‘Informatics competencies’’ is defined as the incorporation of knowledge, skills, and attitudes into the practice of different nursing informatics activities according to the students’ level of experience in nursing.
The nursing students and interns were similar in age and years of computer experience, and more than half of the participants in both groups had taken a nursing informatics course.
The findings indicated that interns and students have relatively the same basic computer knowledge, wireless device skills, clinical informatics attitudes, and patient safety knowledge, skills, and attitudes. More established nurses may have limited technology experience, but with education, they become more likely to use available information systems. Informatics education should be provided through several approaches: courses, tutorials, and clinical training.
With so much money being spent on information technology implementation and Meaningful Use adoption in hospital-based care settings, there is a growing emphasis on improving nursing informatics competencies to promote safer care. The increased use of nursing informatics can improve the clinical decision making process and reduce errors, especially when integrated with the hospital electronic health record (EHR) system.
The study results provided feedback that informatics competencies should be incorporated into baccalaureate nursing programs and recommended including nursing informatics as one of the core courses, not as an elective course, in the curriculum.
Curriculum changes to nursing education can often be a challenge and are implemented slowly. International bodies such as the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommend restructuring the way health professionals are educated to ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to embrace technology for safe practice.
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