Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics


This article was written on 20 Sep 2006, and is filled under Volume 1 2006, Volume 1 No 2.

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The Integration of Nursing Informatics in a BSN Program

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by June Kaminski, RN MSN PhD St

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The educator created an integrated thread of learning activities for the purpose of teaching nursing informatics concepts and theories and developing literacy in a variety of computer applications to four year BSN students in Western Canada. Prior to this, an individual course called Computers in Nursing was taught to students. This course was available to all students within the diploma program at Kwantlen College. When Kwantlen moved to University College status, a Bachelors of Nursing program was initiated. It was decided that nursing informatics would be integrated into each course of the new degree program rather than isolated in one separate course.

Nursing Informatics is integrated as a central thread within the nursing program in all eight semesters of the degree program.

Learning activities which include:

  • a cognitive epistemological
  • an interactive, ontological and
  • a reflective, phenomenological component

have been written for each course in the nursing program. The assumption is that as students use computers to manage information in their student role, they will more readily use their critical thinking skills to learn related applications in their work as nurses.

Dynamics of Distribution

From 1996 to early 1999, all of these learning activities were distributed in a paper manual form, and integrated into the regular curricular schedule by faculty teaching various program courses. In the fall of 1999, a web-based program of study was introduced in addition to the paper manual approach, to encourage self-directed study for students to access lessons both within the classroom and on personal computers on campus, in libraries, or at home. Embedded tutorials, hyperlinks, and interactive activities have been provided to enrich the learning experience and reinforce mastery of various computer applications as well as Nursing Informatics theory. In 2004, the paper manual approach was abandoned due to cost, meaning all activities are currently accessed in digital or on-line formats.

Investigation into the Process

Qualitative data (1998, 1999, 2004) has been collected to glean insight into the students’ and faculty’s experiences with both modes of instruction (paper and web-based). Quantitative data (1996 to 2004) has also been collected to test for cyberphobia using the © P.A.T.C.H. scale and beginning levels of computer literacy, and to assist students to create an individualized plan for learning necessary computer and internet skills, and Informatics theory. An interesting though not unexpected trend noted by the author is that cyberphobia rates have diminished significantly over time. Students tested in 1996 showed higher rates of cyberphobia than current students do. This is understandable since new students often belong to the Generation X or Millennial age cohorts, meaning they have grown up with higher computer exposure and experience.

Learning Activity Design

The learning activities were created with two vital curricular tenets in mind: leveling and appropriate content to suit the course outline. Thus, computer and technology skills were introduced in a measured way, beginning with electronic literature searches, e-mail, use of the web, and spreadsheets in Year One. The complexity increased over the four years, culminating in Year Four students participating in multimedia development, life-long learning plans, and social justice/activism related creative digital artefact development. Likewise, the focus of each activity matched the critical elements of the assigned course. For instance, e-journaling is introduced within an interpersonal communication course, while web site design is done while students are studying nursing inquiry, and qualitative and quantitative data analysis software is introduced in nursing research methods and data analysis courses. (See Table 1).

Semester One Semester Two
  • Electronic Literature Search
  • Nursing Informatics as Competency
  • Reverie Journaling (Wordprocessing)
  • Observation of Computers in Nurses’ Work
  • World Wide Web Resources
  • E-Mail; Netiquette
  • Personal Portfolio (Spreadsheets)
Semester Three Semester Four
  • Hospital Nursing Information Systems
  • Discharge Planning
  • Health Challenge Research
  • Technology and Caring
  • Health Information: Nursing Components
  • Confidentiality and Security
  • Visual Teaching in Pathophysiology
Semester Five Semester Six
  • Teaching Prevention
  • Preparing for the Future
  • Nursing Expert Systems
  • Bioethical Issues and Technology
  • Health Promotion Tool
  • Research Software and Tools
  • Website Development
  • Online Collaboration
  • Computers in the Community
Semester Seven Semester Eight
  • Computers and Change
  • Data Analysis Software
  • CHINS, Telenursing, Societal Health
  • Multimedia in Nursing
  • Lifelong Learning and Computers
  • Nursing Informatics Specialization

Table 1: Learning Activities for Eight Semesters

Challenges and Barriers

The use of an integrated model for nursing informatics theory and practice is viable, but is not without challenges or barriers. The biggest hurdle is to help faculty become confident and competent in teaching nursing informatics theory and practice, and to include it within each course syllabus. This fact often leaves the responsibility up to the student to approach the activities in a self-directed way. This does not always work, since the students feel overwhelmed with their existing workload. Unless the nursing informatics activity is interwoven with a course’s content and assignments, students do not usually feel motivated to take on extra work. Thus, the educator is focusing on these barriers in her PhD work, with a specific focus on how to cultivate a culture for nursing informatics integration within both nursing faculty and student circles.


The Integration of Nursing Informatics in a BSN Program
Authors: June Kaminski, RN MSN PhD St
Affiliation: Kwantlen University College, Surrey, BC; CNIA President-Elect

APA Reference:

Kaminski, J. (2006). The Integration of Nursing Informatics in a BSN Program. Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics, 1(2).

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