Keeping nursing students in touch

In a special ceremony combining tradition with technology, 118 UCLA School of Nursing students were recently cloaked in white coats, signaling their transition from preclinical studies to clinical health sciences. And in the pocket of those coats was a tool they’ll need to become successful in today’s health care world — an iPod Touch.
“The robing of each student with a white coat signifies their journey from the classroom to the clinical setting,” said Courtney Lyder, dean of the nursing school. “At the same time, we want to make sure that we provide them with the tools to be successful and prepare them for 21st-century health care.”
The white-coat ceremony is a relatively new ritual practiced by some nursing schools. What is not a tradition is the gifting of technology.
The core goal of giving the students the Apple iPod Touch is to improve the learning experience and to give students flexible access to the health care–related content they need.
The students were excited and touched by the gift. 
“To have this knowledge at our fingertips is a phenomenal gift we’ve been given with this device,” said Nathan Ball, a third-year bachelor of science student in nursing.
Third-year undergraduate nursing students and first-year master’s entry clinical nursing students received an iPod Touch. The device provides students with mobile applications that give them information they’ll need in the classroom and at the bedside, as well as an app to help them prepare for the nursing board examination.
The apps include:
Nursing Central
Provides everything the nurse needs — nursing assessment, nursing diagnoses and nursing procedures. It includes the Davis Drug Guide, lab and diagnostic tests, a diseases and disorders reference, and Taber’s Medical Dictionary. There is also a Medline Journal citation and study-abstract explorer.
Medical Spanish
Translates English questions and phrases into Spanish to support Spanish-speaking patients. With Hispanics now constituting nearly half the population in Southern California, having the ability to communicate successfully with patients is critical to delivering the proper care. The app includes more than 3,000 phrases.
NCLEX Review
This comprehensive review is what students study before taking the California Nursing Board Examination to become licensed as registered nurses.
While nursing apps for the iPhone or iPod Touch will never be a substitute for professional nursing knowledge, experience and the judgment of the practicing nurse or student nurse, Lyder said, “we are at a major crossroad in redefining nursing education and delivery of care.”
“Taking care of patients is a tremendous responsibility,” he said. “While we still encourage the traditional methods of diagnosis, there is an overwhelming amount of medical information available. Providing each student with new technology for use at the bedside can only improve patient safety and the delivery of care.
“For example,” he added, “if a patient is concerned about interactions among multiple drugs, the Nursing Central app can quickly double-check the medications. Anything that improves health care ultimately helps patients.”
Embracing wireless technology to find ways to improve care is not new to the UCLA School of Nursing. Many faculty researchers at the school are exploring the potential for wireless technology to improve health.
The UCLA School of Nursing is redefining nursing through the pursuit of uncompromised excellence in research, education, practice, policy and patient advocacy. The school offers programs for the undergraduate (B.S.), postgraduate (M.S.N. and M.E.C.N.) and doctoral (Ph.D.) student.