Informatics in Canadian Nursing Education – it’s time!

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As an educator who has advocated for the inclusion of nursing informatics in education since the 1990s, I am particularly delighted to see advances in Canadian nursing education. In 2012, the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) and Canada Health Infoway partnered to create a catalyst for this advancement. I was privileged to receive their first Nursing Faculty E-Health Award in 2012 which spurred a deep reflection on how informatics has finally taken its rightful place in the design and direction given to nursing curriculum in Canadian post-secondary institutions.  This fall, a second nurse educator will be honoured with this same award – a fact that reinforces how important informatics is in 21st century nursing education.

This partnership also supported the development of nursing informatics entry-to-practice competencies for registered nurses by an appointed expert working group. “The Competency Development Working Group engaged in a multi-step, iterative process, involving relevant stakeholders from across Canada in developing these entry-to-practice nursing informatics competencies for registered nurses.” (CASN website).  This document is freely available for download and is a ‘must have’ for any practicing nurse in Canada, including nurse educators and their students.  A corresponding inventory document entitled, CASN Nursing Informatics Inventory: A Report of Existing Teaching and Learning Resources  also provides a plethora of resources that can help educators, students, and practicing nurses learn more about nursing informatics.

Now, in 2013, CASN and Canada Health Infoway are launching useful overview sessions, entitled A Lunch Time Information Exchange Webinar Series on Nursing Informatics/eHealth in Baccalaureate Nursing Education. These sessions will debut on November 4 and 6th, 2013 and will be held in the Western-Northern, Quebec, Atlantic, and Ontario regions.

As well, CASN and Canada Health Infoway are reaching Canadian nursing students. In 2013, two students won the first Student e-Health award for their inventive mental health app. “Amanda Li and Scott Wight from Trent University were recognized for the creation of the Trent Mental Health Initiative, a mobile application offering private self-screening, information about mental health issues, and local resources and support services for students. The application was built in response to the increased risk of depressive disorders amongst post-secondary students and the stigma associated with mental health disorders within the larger community.” (Canada Health Infoway announcement).

All of these developments are very heartening, and create a momentum where educators and students can jump in, feet first, and test the waters of nursing informatics in a well-directed and confident way. I look forward to more initiatives across our nation – initiatives that foster the inclusion of informatics in Canadian curriculum. The CJNI fully supports this endeavor and welcomes informatics-related submissions from nursing educators and their students in both undergraduate and graduate programs.

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