Postgraduate Nurses' Use of Personal Digital Assistants in Critical Care

Maureen Farrell, Ian Baldwin, Nigel Fealy


Healthcare in the developed world is characterised by rapidly increasing use of mobile technologies to deliver effective and quality patient care. In nursing, personal digital assistants (PDAs) have been used for recording patient information and care planning in real time or point of care with patients. This paper examines whether PDAs were used effectively as a learning tool by postgraduate critical care nurses. Qualitative methods were employed to ascertain how the postgraduate nurses embraced PDAs and whether their use enhanced learning and competency in critical care. Fourteen postgraduate intensive care nurses were supplied with a device for the period of their 12-month postgraduate education program in association with RMIT University. This program is the primary qualification for graduate nurses to be certified as competent for Intensive Care Nursing in Australia by the Australian College of Critical Care Nurses (ACCCN). The Clinical Experience Portal [CEP], a software program using Microsoft SharePoint, provided a method for the students to mainly record their critical care competencies, to share information, and to access resources such as drug information, policy documents, and ward lists. The PDAs had a wireless connection to Intranet and the Internet and they could be used as a storage device for viewing lecture material, clinical notes and personal diaries. Focus group discussions were undertaken half way through the program (6 months) and at the completion of the program (12 months). The findings showed that the majority of nurses used the CEP for recording their competencies via the patient's bedside computer rather than the PDA. The main reason cited was convenience and accessibility to the patient’s bedside computer.


Personal Digital Assistants; Clinical Experience Portal; Critical Care; Competencies; Nursing

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