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Nursing Faculty Peer Network Help Advance Understanding of Digital Health

Posted on November 17, 2015 by Cynthia Baker

Digital health technologies continue to transform the health system and the delivery of nursing care, making it essential for educators to ensure nursing students are exposed to digital health.

Three years ago the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) published Nursing Informatics Competencies that contain specific knowledge, skills and attitudes new nurses should possess upon completing their undergraduate nursing program. A toolkit with information on various elements related to the competencies, and teaching strategies and tools, was developed to support uptake and integration of the competencies. Though much was accomplished by creating the competencies and the toolkit, CASN and Canada Health Infoway (Infoway), who supported the initiative through their Clinicians-in-Training program, felt more needed to be done to support this transition.

Last year, with funding from Infoway, CASN began a second phase of the Clinicians-in-Training project and formed the Digital Health Nursing Faculty Peer Network. Ten nursing faculty, who are champions of digital health, were selected to lead the Network. The first meeting of the Peer Leaders occurred in early 2015 and focused on the Network logistics and creating connections with nursing faculty.

Three weeks ago, I was able to attend the second meeting of the Peer Leaders, and was astounded by the progress they have made. Through the spring and summer the Peer Leaders recruited nearly 60 faculty to join the Network. The Peer Leaders work with their colleagues on addressing their learning needs. Some faculty are ‘novices’ in the area of digital health, while others have far more experience.

The projects they are taking on with their colleagues include recommending resources, exploring new teaching strategies, mapping the competencies to their curriculum, conducting research, and more. It cannot be said they haven’t faced challenges: Canada’s size makes it difficult to reach all nursing schools. Also, faculty are always in a time crunch and the curriculum is already crowded. And, in some instances there has been a failure to recognize the importance of digital health in nursing. Despite these challenges the peer leaders are making real progress, and are exploring new ways to involve more faculty, including a webinar series, conference presentations, and by finalizing a new resource in the emerging area of consumer health solutions.

This week is Digital Health Week, and is the perfect time to access CASN’s resources or join the Nursing Faculty Digital Health Peer Network. For more information or to join please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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cbaker 100Cynthia Baker, RN, PhD - Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing

Dr. Cynthia Baker is the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) and a Professor Emerita of Queen’s University in Canada. She is the former Director of Queen’s University School of Nursing, and Associate Dean of the Health Science Faculty. Prior to this, she was the Director of l’École de science infirmière de l’Université de Moncton.

Her educational qualifications include a Bachelor degree from McGill University in Canada, an MPhil in anthropology from the University of London, England, a Master’s in Nursing degree from Dalhousie University in Canada, and a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in the United States.

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