Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jumping through hoops

Research and publishing are two initiatives that staff development instructors are being asked to engage in. When does the educator find time in a busy day to sit down and consider a research project or an article for publication? Does the instructor know how to conceptualize, carry out a research project or know where to look for guidance in his or her institution?
I had the opportunity to participate in a formal performance improvement (PI) project where a colleague and I went through the procedure of preparing a proposal for the hospital Institutional Review Board (IRB). I was very fortunate to be directly working with a nurse who was quite familiar with the formal research process. Although this nurse and I are work colleagues and friends, in this arena I viewed her as a role model and a consultant.  Prior to submitting the application, I had to register, and successfully pass the online course, Protecting Human Research Participants.”  This course is an offering by the National Institute of Health.  I additionally had to take another test required by my health care system. The application had to delineate the purpose of the project, how it would be done, benefits, time frame, what we were measuring, in addition to our data collection tool. The application process gave me the opportunity to think about the project in clear and objective terms as well as organizational issues. Once we received the approval from the IRB, we carried out the project over many months.   
Upon conclusion of the project that had successful outcomes, we went to the next step that was to write a white paper. We reviewed several peer reviewed nursing journals and chose one that we believed was a good match for the project. We scoured through three pages of single-spaced author guidelines. Because we were submitting a paper based on a quality improvement project, we additionally had to adhere to the “The Squire Methodology.”  At the time, we had no idea what that was! After many hours of toiling on the paper, reviewing the Squire methodology, carefully following the instructions, and correctly formatting several photographs, diagrams, and graphs; we were ready to submit our paper.
We received a response from the journal after three months of waiting. Our paper was accompanied by five different reviewer ratings in addition to 25 comments for areas of revision. By this point we were happy that we did not receive a rejection notice but exhausted over the prospect of addressing each revision!  We decided to take a breather for the summer.  By the end of September, re-energized by the break, we finally resubmitted the revised paper. At this time we are anxiously awaiting the outcome!
For staff development instructors who possess little to no experience with research or publishing, find what supportive measures the institution is offering. This would include basic courses, programs or seminars on performing nursing research, consultation and advisement by an in-house research nurse, the medical librarian, writing for publication classes, and editorial support. Local colleges and universities may also offer such courses. Another way to gain experience is to consider working as part of a team on a project with other nurses/doctors experienced with the research process. These endeavors are time consuming. I feel fortunate as my health care system has made a sincere effort to provide support, training and time for the staff development instructor who wishes to engage in these activities.  

Follow-up: I am happy to announce that the article was accepted for publication! I now awaiting the actual publication.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Certification in Nursing Professional Development

On October 22, 2010 I was sitting in a computer station at a testing center not far from my home. I was wearing a pair of yellow silencing headphones that I reluctantly put on my head to drown out the rapid keyboarding strikes made by the person in the adjacent compartment. I had just completed answering 175 questions on the ANCC certification examination on Nursing Professional Development.  What followed was the arduous task of reviewing those questions that I wasn’t 100% sure of my answers. The numbers on the digital countdown clock appeared to be elapsing more rapidly than I wanted. I could easily pick out two wrong distracters but there was always one choice in each set of questions that seemed sort of correct. I had to focus and just answer the questions. With 30 seconds to spare, I completed my final answer and lingered a moment before I clicked the submit button. I gathered up my driver’s license, locker key, two pencils and a paper booklet provided by the test center and checked out. The nice part about taking a computerized test is discovering the score almost immediately. With the paper and pencil tests, waiting for a confirmation of test scores used to take up to six-weeks. I approached the attendant who had to take three digital images each of my index fingers. My heart was pounding as I anxiously awaited my outcome. With little emotion, the man behind a large gray desk recited a set of instructions then printed out a piece of paper. He quickly embossed the document, signed it then unceremoniously handed it over to me. I glanced down at the paper and read the words, “Congratulations, You have passed…..” I felt relief, excitement and joy as I happily squealed, “I passed!”

ANCC board certification ensures that the nurse has “met strong professional standards”, measures professional competency (ANCC, 2010) and validates knowledge in the specialty. The National Nursing Staff Development Organization (NNSDO) also encourages credentialing. ANCC offers certification exams in approximately 42 nursing specialties. My institution encourages and promotes certification in addition to reimbursing for the exam fee (after successful passing) and providing a pay differential.  I previously held a certification in Nutrition Support. I decided that taking the exam in Nursing Professional Development was long overdue.

To sit for the exam, the candidate must meet with ANCC eligibility requirements. To prepare for the exam, I purchased a copy of the ANCC Nursing Review and Resource Manual for Nursing Professional Development. I also attended a review course offered by my health care system to every nurse educator. The ANCC site also offers sample test questions.  I found studying for the exam and attending the review course enriching to my professional practice. In particular, studying the various roles in nursing professional development that include; educator, leader, facilitator, change agent, consultant, and researcher gave me new perspective for my practice. I strongly recommend attaining certification.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Creating Music Videos for Nursing Education

The first time I ever heard of Animoto was after reading a publication,Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration written by Richard Byrne that can be found on his blog site: Free Technology 4 Teachers.  Animoto  is an online service that offers a way for the average person to create stunning music videos! I am happy to report that Animoto is fun and amazing. I signed up for a free account that allows me to make 30-second videos. I also took advantage of  Animoto for Education that  is available for teachers and students. Unlike many other sites I have visited, this one lives up to their promise of being "fast, free, and shockingly easy."  The first video I created, “Nurses” took 30-minutes while sitting comfortably in my easy chair. I used clip art of nurses and interspersed words in between them. My jaw dropped when the project was complete. I was watching a music video that had a slick, professional appearance to it.

Animoto can be used to create infomercials for both staff and patient education. I recently made one entitled, “Friction Scrub the Hub” emphasizing the importance of cleansing an injection cap for 15-seconds using friction.   Music videos make a nice alternative to hand-made posters. In a certification course for distance learning that I took earlier this year, one participant discussed how creating a poster was one of the course requirements and this could not be done online.  I suggested that an updated version to the traditional oak-tag poster would be to have the students create an informative music video that can be seen online.
Some considerations for using Animoto in the hospital setting include
  • Obtain departmental approval
  •  Contact Information Services (IS). This site has streaming videos. Blocking the site is a high probability because of bandwidth and the potential strain on the local hospital server.
  • Request permission to access the site from IS
  •  Explain the purpose of using the site in addition to how it is of benefit to the institution
  •  Put the request and explanation down in writing. Send a “cc” to all interested parties, including management
  •  Consider a “downloadable file” in a MP4 format (Available with the All Access Account) that can be used as a vodcast.
  • Hope for the best!
To begin making videos:

2.    Plan the music video (I like to make an outline)
3.    Organize pictures/or videos
4.    Upload pictures or videos to the Animoto site
5.    Arrange them in the order
6.    Create some text (optional, but I  highly recommend)
7.    Choose music from a broad array of licensed offerings 
8.    Finalize the project by clicking publish
9.    Sit back and enjoy viewing the video
10.  The toolbox allows reediting and remixing  

CLICK HERE to view "The Basics for Creating Videos on Animoto

Monday, September 20, 2010

Social Media and Nursing Staff Development Instructors

I was a speaker at a Nurse Educators Conference recently with close to 200 participants. Everyone in the audience had the opportunity to participate in live polling by using audience response cards. My presentation topic was on the creative use of technology in nursing education.  I used a poll slide that simply asked, “What is your favorite social media site?” The options I listed included: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and SecondLife (I believed this would be a nice way to start this segment of my talk). Once the poll closed only 60 participants had responded. I remarked to the audience, “Only 60 of you responded.” I then asked, “Did I give you enough time to answer?” One educator remarked, “You didn’t list, none.” I looked at the list and said with mild embarrassment, “You’re absolutely right, my error.” For verification, I then asked the audience, “For those who didn’t respond, would you have answered none?” Before me I could see a large portion of the audience nodding their heads in agreement. It appeared as though more than 2/3 of my audience do not engage in social media of any kind.

Many months ago I pitched RNchat to a number of nurse educators when Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: The Future of Nursing was going to submit questions to the weekly nursing discussion group developed by Phil Baumann. I was enthusiastic about the prospect of more educators I personally knew becoming involved in social media and networking. My invitation was met with a less than tepid response. Many expressed that they were too busy. One educator vehemently responded, “I have a big problem with that Twitter.” I was speechless about the strong sentiment yet this particular individual could not articulate what her specific issue was with the site.

According to the initial statistics from the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (HRSA, 2010), the average age of registered nurses in the workface is 47; 16.2% are between the ages of 50-54; hospitals employ 63%; 3.7% are in nursing instruction and 0.3% in informatics. According to the Nursing Faculty Shortage Fact Sheet  by The American Academy of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the age of the” doctorally prepared” associate professor is 56.1 whereas the “masters prepared” age is 55.2. Facebook reports more than 500 million active users. Inside Network detailed that as of July 1, 2010, 80% of all users of Facebook were between the ages of 13-44 and 20% of users were 45-65+. The 45-54 category recorded only 13% as active users and 55-65+ at 7%. Based on these numbers, one can surmise why the use of social media as an educational tool in the hospital setting has been slow. Sadly, misconceptions fueled by headlines that detail firings, and suspensions hamper the adoption of social media. Additionally, in-house restrictions/access to the Internet, filter blocking, and a general lack of time to learn the basics of social networking sites further impacts the ability to launch educational endeavors in this venue easily.

From my perspective: 
  • Administrative and managerial support are vital in promoting and launching the use of social media and web-based education in the hospital environment. 
  • Demonstrate how the concept is of benefit to the institution and in alignment with the strategic plan. 
  • Peer support and buy-in is very important in sending out the message to the rest of the staff. 
  • Align with those who see the value of social media as an educational tool and platform.
  • Dispel misconceptions 
  • Plan to provide training and support for those unfamiliar with its use. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Know Your Audience and Venue

Earlier this year I learned about an online polling application that involved cell phones. The live polling service requires an Internet connection and is free of charge for up to 30 people. The graphs are visually appealing and the polls are easy to set up. I tested the service by mocking up a survey then experimenting with it myself. I also invited some of my coworkers to give it a try. On the trial run, I was happy to see the live polling worked exactly as advertised. I was asked to speak on a nutrition topic for an upcoming in-house continuing education program and decided to use the polling service as a "clever" way to break during portions of the presentation. I thoughtfully considered my polling questions and successfully imported special slides to embed them in my presentation.
The day of the program arrived and I was very eager to use the new method of polling. I had set up three questions and retested each poll for functionality and responsiveness before the program began. I was confident that I had considered every angle and that the application would be a big success. However, my biggest error in judgment was that my expectations exceeded the ability of my audience in addition to the reliability of the Internet connectivity. 
After my introduction, I reviewed the objectives for my presentation then told the audience about the live cell phone polling that used texting. I provided a visual tutorial in my presentation and also performed a brief demonstration. I knew I was in trouble when I looked at the faces in the audience and realized the majority were “seasoned” registered nurses and undoubtedly baby boomers.  I tried to reassure myself by saying, "I'm a boomer and I know how to text." I knew I had stepped in it when I made the announcement of the in-program polling would be done by texting. Immediately I heard whispered remarks that included, "Texting? I don't know how to text." The next thing that happened was the scramble to don reading glasses by more than 50% of the participants. One member of the audience announced, "Can you turn on the lights, I can't see the numbers on my phone." The final blow was the Internet connection in the room where the program was being held went down. Because the application required Internet connectivity, I resorted to polling the old fashioned way by asking for a show of hands! 
Even though the experience didn’t work out as I had hoped, I decided to give the text-message polling another try. This time I used it with an orientation group which was predominantly made up of new graduates ranging in age between 22-32 years. I briefly explained the process then went straight to the poll slide. Instantly, each person pulled out his or her cell phones and started effortlessly tapping away on the small keyboards. The Internet connection was excellent and the bars on the graph began to rise in response to the texting. The class enjoyed the live polling and I was happy to see that this time round, I had a successful outcome!    
A good "lessons learned" is:
  •  Always consider (ASSESS) the technical ability of the audience
  •   Pre-check the equipment and venue for Internet connectivity
  •  Allow time for loading files (Pre-load internet files if possible)
  •  Consider a backup plan if all else fails. In regard to polling, a “show of hands” still works!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Screen Captures

Many years ago, I learned about the screen capture button on my PC. I was delighted to discover that I could click the button and simply capture a picture of almost anything that I was looking at on my computer screen (This is very similar to taking a snap-shot).

Screen capturing has become more versatile than the simple "Print Screen" button. Many web-based and software screen capture offerings are available; ranging in price from "free" to approximately $80. The differences between them are the types of captures one can do, the degree of editing capability, in addition to the ability to download for private use or share globally. This is a MUST have tool for the nurse educator because of the wide-range of applications that it can be used for.

I use screen capturing software (SCS) to enhance pictures, words, and to make videos that I use in slide-show presentations and learning modules. I like using SCS to create video tutorials that are "voiced-over" such as explaining a new form that needs to be in-serviced to everyone in the hospital. Backup video screen captures have also come in handy when Internet access was unavailable in rooms where I was giving a presentation. What I like about this tool is that it is relatively simple to use, inexpensive, and the results are quite impressive.

Types of screen captures:

■ Full screen: Only what appears on the screen
■ Full window: Only what appears on the screen minus the tool bars and ribbons
■ Region: A selected portion of the page
■ Scrolling region: Everything that appears on a page including sections where it is necessary to scroll to view all content
■ Screen video with recording: Capture or create videos with audio

I use Snagit by TechSmith, which is a commercially sold SCS. Captures are simple to accomplish. The Snagit editing tray is easy to use and offers a broad range of functions including resizing, coloring, adding words, and even more options to enhance the screen capture. Snagit version 10 is affordable and at the time of this writing, retails at $49.95. An education price is available at $37.95. I am still able to use my print screen key and it automatically defaults to Snagit!

For nursing education departments that currently do not use SCS, I strongly recommend trying one of the free versions or download a free trial for commercially sold SCS to determine which one best meets the needs of the department (See comparison chart). Note: Many SCS are available on the web, I am listing those that I have used.

Screen Capture Comparison Chart