Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics


This article was written on 21 Sep 2019, and is filled under Volume 14 2019, Volume 14 No 3.

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Is Post-Secondary Education Leading the Way in Technology or Falling Behind?

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Trends and Issues in Nursing Informatics Column

By Melanie Neumeier RN MN

Melanie NeumeierMelanie Neumeier is an Assistant Professor in the BScN Program at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB. Her research interests include integrating new technologies into nursing education and interdisciplinary collaboration in enhancing evidence-informed nursing practice. Melanie first became interested in nursing informatics through a nursing informatics course she took in her MN program at Memorial University in Newfoundland, and has since continued that interest in her research, her writing, and her teaching.


Post-Secondary Education and Technology

With the struggles the nation is having in creating a nationally integrated electronic health record (EHR), many provinces are creating their own provincial system, including Alberta. Currently in Alberta we have over 1300 discrete systems throughout the province that are being integrated into one clinical information system (CIS) over the next few years known as Connect Care.

Connect Care is a provincial initiative that is being rolled out throughout the province in nine waves and is scheduled to start implementation in late 2019 with the goal of full implementation by late 2022. The goal of a provincial CIS is to bridge the current gap in healthcare by allowing all healthcare providers and patients throughout the province direct access to their health care information no matter where in Alberta they happen to be. Patients will no longer have to repeat their personal history and medications time and again with each practitioner they encounter, and prescriptions, specialist appointments, and lab reports/diagnostic imaging results will no longer need to be faxed or mailed out. Connect Care also offers information through the provider order entry system for health care practitioners to ensure they stay informed and follow best practices. While this is a huge undertaking, the benefits for patients and current practitioners are undeniable, but what about our future health care providers?

As a professor in an undergraduate nursing program, I have serious concerns about our ability to support our nursing students to confidently enter a technologically advanced health care system. Currently Alberta Health Services (AHS) is providing training to our students so they can work with the system when they enter practice, but throughout their education they are still using paper documentation. Unfortunately, this contributes to the theory practice gap that is so often highlighted in nursing practice. Nursing education programs are supposed to be teaching best practices to ensure that on graduation our students are not only competent professionals, but able to lead the way in positive change for excellent patient care. When we fall behind in the current technology of healthcare, we not only disadvantage our students, but potentially undermine other best practice initiatives as education programs are seen as stuck in the past. There are of course simulated electronic documentation programs available solely for educational purposes, but they lack some of the functions and the similarity to what is being used in practice, again highlighting the theory practice gap.

Thankfully, the company that designed and supports Connect Care for AHS is working on an educational version of Connect Care to be used in post-secondary institutions, however, this product is not yet available. This begs the question; how long will nursing education trail behind practice? Ideally the educational version of our provincial CIS would be available to nursing programs at the same time that it is being rolled out in the region (or ideally sooner). This would allow our BScN programs to be leading the way in practice change, or at least keeping up. Unfortunately, by not having an educational version of Connect Care available to our students throughout all four years of their program, nursing education is again falling behind the current technology in practice. The CIS is designed to bridge the gap in healthcare to ensure best patient care, but to ensure best practice in nursing education we also need to address the theory practice gap.


Alberta Health Services. Connect Care. Retrieved from

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