U of Calgary nursing students train on
By Chris Simnett
New nurses have to deal with many challenges but the University of
Calgary is making sure a computer system isn’t one of them.
The university’s Faculty of Nursing has installed four ‘Computers on
Wheels’ – also known as Cows – in its Nursing Skills Centre.
The Cows connect to the Calgary Health Region’s electronic health record
(e_record) system, allowing nursing students to complete training on
the actual computer system they’ll use when working in the Region’s
Students can access training information on imaginary patients only;
they do not have access to information on real patients.
“They can learn it ahead of time, play with it and when they go to their
clinical placements, they can work like the rest of the staff,” says
Dale Brar of Training Content and Development, Advanced Technology, at
“This takes the students beyond the school setting to the clinical
environment,” adds Brar.
“Previously we had unit managers express concern the students were not
quite ready when it came time to use the system. Because the nursing
students can now practice with ‘play patients,’ they’re learning the
real thing. This is the missing link.”
The nursing faculty has created 12 different scenarios that students,
from first to fourth year, will use when recording and monitoring
information of these imaginary patients.
Although getting the university and Region computers to mesh has been a
challenge, U of C nursing instructor Barb Johnston is excited about
giving students access to the technology.
“We’ve partnered with the Region in order to access this system,”
Johnston says. “It’s been a huge technical challenge for the Region and
for our IT people – specifically our IT person on faculty. They’ve
really given birth to this.”
The e_record system currently connects Calgary’s three Regional adult
acute care hospitals: the Peter Lougheed Centre, Foothills Medical
Centre and Rockyview General Hospital.
The system, expected to be fully operational by 2010, will give
healthcare professionals instant electronic access to a patient’s
medical file, ultimately allowing citizens to access their own personal
care information, view specific lab results and self schedule