From apps to communities of practice

Today I was interviewed by a reporter for the Canadian Nurse who was asking questions about what apps I use on a regular basis. I was ready with my answer as I have used apps such as Lexicomp for information about drugs, apps to check IV drug compatibility, another to help nursing students practice heart sounds, an app to help students use layman’s terms with patient teaching and then I started to share how I am beginning to use Twitter. The interview then centered around my use twitter. I explained my perceived benefits of Twitter and introduced her to hashtags for healthcare. The reporter seemed surprised that I would even mention this and asked why would I use Twitter. My answer was to connect with experts in their fields and to find out what people are talking about, what their concerns are whether it relates to a specific disease process or the latest vaccine. It is a way to start and generate a discussion.  I also tried to lead the discussion towards blogs or social networking sites such as Cloudworks as I believe that sites such as these will be equally as beneficial to nursing, specifically clinical education.

When I started as a clinical instructor with nursing students I was nervous about my role- how do I pick patients for the students? what do I do if the student is not meeting clinical expectations? what should I plan for post-conferences? These and many more questions were running through my mind. Using a social networking site for new clinical instructors would help to answer some of these questions and help me to realize that I was not the only one dealing with a specific situation. Yes, I could have asked a co-worker what worked for them (which is what I did ) but having the ability to start a discussion and share experiences about how we deal with various situations, such as working with an unsafe student with other clinical instructors across the province, country or world who have experience and are willing to share their wealth of information and provide support is needed. To hear many people’s experiences is valuable. We can always look for for information in a journal, however sometimes it is just nice to hear what someone else did in a similar situation. This is where the social networking sites come in. I believe that some may say then establish a group which is private and only available to those who work within the institution- this way the only ones who may access this site would be those who could log into the course management system, however I see there would be many problems with this. Ultimately I would like to see a social networking site for clinical  instructors and those students interested in issues related to clinical education, eventually developing into a community of inquiry. Specific topics such as the ones I mentioned above could be discussed, links could be added by the members so that it could not only be interactive but generalizable as different institutions will have different policies. The key would be to link it to the actual clinical practice of clinical instructors. If someone already knows of such a site- please send it to me.

However the above is not my final project for the course ECI831. For this course, I am working on a NING site for patients with congestive heart failure. I am in the beginning stages with this site. Although the site is pretty easy to set up and start up, I am finding that it is quite restrictive with the backgrounds. This is a big consideration for this patient population as I need to pick one of the four backgrounds that will make it easy to read. The background that I chosen and am working with looks like a cork board. I am not sure if this is the background that I will keep … I am also working on making the site easy to navigate for information that is easy to read. For those visual learners, I have added a great 3D model/video of what happens with congestive heart failure, however it is difficult to understand at times due to the background music so I may delete this video and keep looking for others. I am also working on making a few videos of my own and some fun activities dealing with dietary restrictions. So I will keep you posted on these and other developments. My ultimate goal would be that this site would develop into a community of practice a place where caregivers and patients can come together to problem solve about a particular situation, or find out what specific procedures are like before going to the hospital or discussing the latest research. Ultimately this would be user driven. Sites such as this have been used with this patient population in Europe however patients only have access to this for short periods (less than 6 months) and I would like to open the site for all those interested in congestive heart failure and keep it going. I will provide additional information/research about what information patients with heart failure and caregivers want as well as more about my theory.