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New mobile app enables USM nursing students to perform clinical tasks

Two members of the nursing faculty at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) have seized upon the limitless potential of mobile technology to develop a transformative app that allows students to develop skills and perform clinical tasks through their smartphones.

Dr. Stephanie Parks and Dr. Marti Jordan, both assistant professors in the School of Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice at USM, joined forces with information technology (iTech) integration specialists at the University earlier this spring to create the new mobile app.

The University already had in place the iSouthernMS app that gives students links to multiple organizations and services on campus. The app is utilized more than 1,000 times on any day of the week. Parks and Jordan sought to develop a mobile device application that delivered material traditionally taught on campus right to the students’ palms.

“They don’t have a word yet to quantify the amount of excitement Dr. Jordan and I have for this project together and for students in the nursing profession at our university,” said Parks. “We built a transformative interface in which our students can watch videos of clinical simulations, review the objectives of the clinical skill, and see the evaluation rubric for the clinical skill.”

She notes that the app also features a link that allows students to evaluate their own simulation experience, as well as log simulation lab hours spent on campus.

Parks teaches in USM’s nurse anesthesia program, while Jordan teaches in the nurse practitioner program. Jordan says that she was intrigued about the concept of a new mobile app when first approached by Parks.

“Stephanie brought the idea to me, and I thought it was great because when I see patients in the hospital I can access an app that tells me all the latest evidenced-based practice information to provide care for patients,” said Jordan. “I am extremely excited about this project because it is truly cutting-edge technology for education.”

Though the colleagues teach in different graduate programs, Parks notes that their technology design paths are closely aligned.

“For example, Dr. Jordan has a link that instructs students on how to perform a cardiac patient assessment, and I have a link that instructs students on how to use ultrasound to place a peripheral intravenous line,” said Parks. “Our content is different, but our methodology is extremely similar. We have a personal joke between us about who has the best-looking appearance on our application pages.”

Nursing disciplines conduct clinical competencies that allow student evaluations on patient scenarios. This clinical checkoff evolved into what is now known as Objective Structured Clinical Evaluations (OSCE). Nurse practitioners and anesthesia students learn how to perform clinical skills by following these standardized evaluations successfully.

Until Parks and Jordan developed the new app project, students learned these tasks from written manuals and classroom instruction. The nursing interface is the first discipline-specific use of the iSouthernMS mobile application to show clinical evaluation rubrics, videos and objectives for each nursing task. Each OSCE featured in the mobile app was developed and written by current students.

To illustrate the potential usage use of the app, Parks points out that on June 7, the iSouthernMS application was accessed more than 1,200 times. Currently, the nurse anesthesia and nurse practitioner programs have more than 100 students who will be able to access the nursing interface once it goes live. The plan is to have the app functional by the beginning of the fall semester.

This innovative idea was awarded a research development grant by the University in April and will be featured in Faculty First Week in August.

“We believe the success gained in our application development would be easily replicated in every department on campus,” said Parks. “Mobile technology provides a tool to engage students in an exciting new way that also fills the gap created through social distancing. The mobile application tool developed in this project is a powerful example of our innovation through isolation.”

To learn more about all nursing programs at USM, call 601.266.5445 or visit: https://www.usm.edu/nursing-health-professions/index.php

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