UT’s College of Nursing is looking to the future with the introduction of a new educational software program called iCare this fall.
Electronic health records are used in increasingly more hospitals and institutions around the country as an alternative to paper files. The problem lies in the fact that one must be a licensed health care provider to actually use EHRs, so many students don’t work with these until they enter their field.
“We learn about them but don’t get to see or use them until we are working in the hospital with actual patients,” Catherine Runyan, senior in nursing, said.
iCare gives nursing students the benefit of training with electronic health records in an educational environment.
“Electronic health records are currently being used in the facilities in the Knoxville area, but our nursing students get minimal exposure to them,” Tami Wyatt, one of the creators of iCare, said. “What we have done is created an electronic health record to be used for learning purposes.”
Wyatt and her colleagues Matt Bell, of the College of Nursing, Xeuping Li and Yo Indranoi, both of the College of Engineering, began to develop the project as a result of a lack of inexpensive similar programs that would meet the college’s unique needs. These four are also in the process of creating a company to market iCare to a wider audience.
“We have some early adopters that are already in place, and we are doing this simply to garnish the money, so that we may continue to improve iCare for the students,” Wyatt said.
iCare was tested in the spring of 2009 with numerous nursing students and faculty and will be used for the first time in the curriculum and classroom setting this week.
“What we anticipate will happen is that faculty will be able to tell us what additional features would make it more useful for them,” Wyatt said. “The program is continually being revised and improved.”
She said one improvement to the program was expanding the software to accommodate not only the adult population but the pediatric and maternal child populations as well. Such experience is indispensible when nursing students begin their careers.
“Certain areas in the hospital (ER, labor and delivery, ICU) often require some experience and prefer not to hire new graduates,” Carolyn Riley, senior in nursing, said.
The major advantage of iCare is that it helps nursing students be more competitive as job candidates. While many nursing students in the past haven’t generally found it incredibly difficult to find a job once they have graduated, Wyatt said it is becoming harder in these economic times.
“For the first time in at least 15 years, our students actually do need to be more competitive than their counterparts,” she said. “We hope that this does make them (more) marketable, along with other characteristics of our students.”
Nursing to utilize new software
Published: Thu Sep 10, 2009