As America’s Baby Boomers get older and sicker, the demand for well-trained nurses has never been greater.

“No one comes into the hospital anymore with just one condition. They come in with multiple issues. For a new nurse to take that complexity, break it down and then determine what to do for their patient, it is very difficult,” said Anne Dabrow Woods, chief nurse of Wolters Kluwer’s Health Learning, Research and Practice business.

As a result of these shifts, and as nursing initiatives such as “The Future of Nursing Report” from the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation indicate, the nursing profession is rapidly changing. It’s becoming more specialized, and is growing to support new healthcare models, from integrated wellness to transitional care. In this environment, equipping new nurse graduates for the job and preparing practicing nurses to maintain competency, licensure and certification can be overwhelming.

“The amount of new health care information is like a deluge. From the time you’re a student throughout the entire time you’re in active practice, you must continue to learn and have resources readily available,” said Woods, DNP, RN. Consequently, both schools and hospitals are turning to new ways to make trusted, accurate and evidence-based content easily accessible.

Technological solutions

Nurse educators and practitioners say today’s health care learning must tie classroom learning and knowledge acquisition to clinical experience. Increasingly, technology is making that possible.

Wolters Kluwer’s digital learning programs integrate educational content with powerful tools that help nursing students absorb course materials in an engaging way, while building critical thinking skills and competency for practice. Integrated adaptive learning tools such as Lippincott CoursePoint also identify where students need remediation so they feel more prepared to treat real-life patients in a variety of settings.

“Virtual simulated learning helps students build their confidence and competence. By allowing repetitive practice, students can practice and reflect in a safe environment.”

“An important part of the education process for nursing students is the exposure to real-life clinical situations. But because access to clinical spaces continues to be a challenge, different approaches are needed. Virtual simulation is one such approach,” said Cathy Wolfe, president and CEO, Wolters Kluwer’s Health Learning, Research & Practice business. Wolters Kluwer’s virtual simulation, vSim for Nursing®, co-developed with Laerdal Medical, allows students to interact with virtual patients and make a variety of clinical reasoning decisions that are tracked so each student receives personalized feedback. “Virtual simulated learning helps students build their confidence and competence. By allowing repetitive practice, students can practice and reflect in a safe environment,” added Wolfe.

Nursing students must also be prepared to take their licensure exam, and in this area digitally-enabled tools are also making a difference. Efficacy studies have shown that students who learn on tools such as Lippincott PassPoint have higher pass rates on their licensure exams.

Lifelong learning

Today, there is a growing emphasis on the role of continuing professional development in nursing practice.

“Hospitals have come to understand the importance of keeping nurses current on the latest information. They’re purchasing continuing educational products and providing those courses straight to their nurses so they can get the added education they need,” Woods said.

For practicing nurses, online courses that utilize a range of media and digital tools are not only more efficient, they are also more likely to result in learning that stands the test of time.

“We’ve found adult learners learn best if they use all their senses,” said Woods. “In addition to reading, learning by watching a video or listening to a podcast really helps to cement that knowledge in nurses’ minds so it’s easier for them to recall it when they need it.”