DEVELOPING LIFE-LONG LEARNING SKILLS THROUGH INTEGRATION OF MOBILE DEVICES IN WOMEN’S HEALTH EDUCATION
Technology driven education has been widely accepted world-wide especially with the immergence of innovations in a dynamic healthcare environment. Evolving “web-enhanced” technology allows for a more integrative approach to teaching in the class room, on-line and during clinical experiences. Mobile devices such as Personal digital assistants (PDAs) and, more recently Smartphones, are being used by many nursing, medical and allied health programs across the country to enhance student learning and critical reasoning skills providing opportunities to support learning outside of the classroom. Specifically, nursing students enrolled in women’s health courses in BSN and MSN programs at one institution learn to use a mobile device proficiently with the hopes of taking these skills directly to the bedside after graduation. This article will describe how to access resources and tools available to women’s health students and clinicians, discuss the learning process focusing on what types of activities can be incorporated into nursing curriculums at undergraduate and graduate levels and lastly, make recommendations for future technology initiatives to promote life-long learning.
Acquiring skills in technology in nursing education that will enhance the professional role of the nurse and advanced practice nurse (APN) is well supported by several accrediting agencies and organizations. According to the National League for Nursing (NLN), nursing programs and curricula should be designed to “effectively integrate technology” in order to promote life-long learning and prepare students for their future roles. Likewise, the American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN) encourage clinical site-based learning opportunities to “manage health related data and use information technologies to provide nursing care” (p. 2). Specifically at the graduate level, the National Organization for Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) identifies one of their core competencies as “the nurse practitioner demonstrates competence in the professional role when she/he incorporates current technology”  With the support of the above noted organizations, it is imperative as educators that we continue to strive to improve the preparation of nurses so they will be proficient upon graduation to flourish in a technology driven healthcare industry.
Nurses and APNs who practice in the clinical areas of women’s health, are required to provide patients with the most updated information regarding research, policies and practice. In addition, they should be trained in accessing this information at the point of care. Therefore, educational institutions must identify student outcomes specific to integrating PDAs into educational curriculums. Once these are identified, a thorough search of the literature and information industry for all available resources and tools that can support achieving these outcomes can be conducted. Examples of technology outcomes that educational institutions might choose include: clinical competence, information literacy, technology integration, and ability to become life-long learners.