1. Alexander, Susan DNP, ANP-BC, ADM-BC

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Entering the key word nursing in any search engine yields pages of Web sites targeting all aspects of nursing. Web sites continue to establish a place in the education of nurses. Valuable tools for nursing students, across a range of educational levels, now exist to enhance knowledge acquired in curricula.


Although once limited to textbooks, students now can easily find online resources to assist in tasks such as interpretation of lab values, examination preparation, and others. Nurses with advanced preparation are finding novel ways to disseminate their knowledge to students, increasing chances of success in the classroom and skill at the bedside.


Prelicensure nurses frequently face multiple computerized exams in educational curricula, culminating in the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse, which is required for licensure in the United States. In addition to clinical knowledge and test-taking skills, nursing students benefit from a greater degree of skill and comfort in taking online tests, which can be facilitated by addition of technology to the classroom. A systematic review of literature on the comparison of online and traditional face-to-face learning suggests that online learning is of equal benefit in the acquisition of clinical skill knowledge by students in prelicensure programs, particularly if used in a supplementary fashion to traditional educational methods.1 Responding to the need for increased use of technology in nursing programs has created opportunities for nurses who are willing to create technological resources for students.


The continuous need for improved technological skills related to nursing practice has been addressed in the literature. Integration of evidence-based practice, (EBP) a key skill for advanced practice nurses, necessitates regular exercise in searching and critically reviewing current research, which can be enhanced by use of technological tools. Both prelicensure and graduate nursing students who participated in the implementation of a Web-based technological tool to boost skills needed for successful integration of EBP participants (n = 226) demonstrated correct application of PICOT to a clinical question (72.1%; n = 163; 49.2%, n = 63).2



Prelicensure Nurses

During her career as a nurse, Mary Ann Dreher, EdD, MSN, RN, quickly recognized the need for the addition of computerized learning in the education of new nurses. In her years as a hospital nurse, Dreher witnessed the difficulties in transition from paper-based charting to electronic medical records, observing how staff and student nurses reacted to the change. The difficulties of transitioning from paper to computers influenced her work as a nursing instructor at the College of DuPage, when Dreher began writing computer programs designed to improve the clinical skills, knowledge base, and comfort with computer usage in student nurses throughout their prelicensure program. Pursuing her interests in computerized learning even further, Dreher earned a doctorate in education from Northern Illinois University, focusing her dissertation upon the benefits of computer-assisted instruction in student nurses.


Dreher's computer modules were so successful in assisting her student nurses that the College of DuPage quickly adopted them in nursing curricula. To expand her modules to a wider audience, she established Educational Global Technologies, Inc. (EDGT), in 2004 (Table). Now retired from her faculty position, Dreher continues to work more than 40 hours weekly serving as president of EDGT, Inc, actively monitoring the changing educational needs of both students and nursing faculty and preparing tutorials to meet those needs. Dreher estimates that since beginning her company, more than 500 000 students have used her tutorials, and she is presently serving 2000 active student accounts with 39 tutorials. She has a professional writer to assist in the preparation of tutorials and continues to add new topics to her site. Around-the-clock availability of her site, across platforms and both Windows-based and iOS operating systems, allows students to access tutorials at the convenience of their schedule. Free 30-day trials give interested students and faculty members an opportunity to review the many topics featured on the Web site.

Table Resources... - Click to enlarge in new windowTable Resources

Graduate Nurses

During her career as nursing faculty, Cathy Thompson, PhD, RN, CCNS, CNE, regularly endured lengthy commutes to deliver lectures to her graduate students on campus. Finding a solution in recording lectures and videos for class presentations, she soon realized that there were better ways to use technology in engaging students and helping them to develop skills needed for advanced practice. Now president and chief executive officer of CJT Consulting and Education, Thompson created her own website (Nursing Education Expert) designed to assist nurses in applying EBP (Table). "I realized that people weren't really doing education in evidence-based practice, and so I felt there was my area in which I could help. I wanted to be able to refer students to the best resources," states Thompson (C. Thompson, personal communication, March 29, 2016). Beginning with a collection of podcasts, Thompson's site has expanded to include blogs about topics such as nursing theory, advanced practice, and leadership. She also maintains a page with selected resources and products that she has found helpful as an educator and advanced practice nurse. Visitors who are interested in learning more about EBP can register for her free newsletter and receive a copy of Thompson's free EBP handout: What is Evidence-Based Practice? Thompson's site has also been awarded Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct (HONcode) certification adherence to strict standards vetting health information available on the Internet.


Thompson's hope is that by using resources available on her Web site, nurses have the opportunity for continued practice in using critical thinking skills to evaluate and apply research in care settings. She describes herself as an "infopreneur because I am providing information and my expertise is evidence-based information. Instead of a brick and mortar store, I am dealing with digital products" (C. Thompson, personal communication, March 29, 2016).



Site Design

An initial consideration in establishing a Web site concerns site design. Whereas Thompson designed and launched her own site, Dreher took a different approach, involving a graphics designer and programmer in site development and launch. Thompson used a Web site management service, BlueHost.


Katie Wohlwend, graphics designer and owner of KW Design, has worked as a professional web designer since 2008. Wohlwend oversees the creative portion of site design and recognizes the links between personal branding, reputation, and outward appearance of the Web site, which is key to the success of health-related sites. "It is important for healthcare professionals to appear knowledgeable and trustworthy[horizontal ellipsis]developing an organized Web site can help" (K. Wohlwend, personal communication, July 11, 2016). Although she does not limit her work to the category of health-related Web sites, her experience in designing these sites has cultivated her reputation for creating sites noted for their appeal and usefulness to healthcare providers and patients. Wohlwend has practical recommendations for those who are interested in launching their personal Web site.


Name and Domain

Selection of a site name and domain is the first step, and one for which she recommends obtaining reliable professional guidance. Many companies offer domain hosting, and she finds that it is easy for clients to become attached to less than reputable companies. Web site owners should always have access to their domains, along with the capacity for modifications and maintenance. Web sites with simple navigations, a clean appearance to text and graphics, and fewer images per page are less distracting for the audience. Thompson used a Web site management service, BlueHost, which hosts sites and assists users in building them. She pays a minimal annual fee for hosting of her site. Because Thompson's site includes a page of Resources and Links, she can generate small amounts of income from the site when users click the links provided on her site to reach other Web sites or to purchase products on those sites.


Security and Functionality

Web site costs vary widely depending on needed functionalities and security support. Wohlwend recommends consulting with programmers and developers regarding methods to improve the security of your site. Use of a server to relay spam via e-mail or to hold unwanted files from the hacker is a common way Web sites can be compromised. Keeping software up to date, use of complex passwords for servers and Web site administration areas, and use of a security certificate can be helpful in preventing malicious attacks upon your site. Uploading documents onto the back end of your Web site, thinking they will be private, is not recommended owing to the potential for hacking.


Visual Appeal

The favorite color of a Web site owner may not be the best choice for use online. Wohlwend notes that the selection of a color palette creates a significant impact upon facilitation of trust and feelings about the Web site in the target audience. Wohlwend finds that many health-related sites select inappropriate color schemes, such as oranges and yellows, particularly in health-related fields. Colors that produce a more calming effects include blues, greens, and deeper tones of reds or neutral colors.



Nurses benefit from innovative methods to gain knowledge and refine necessary skills. Making your presence known in the online community, building relationships with nurses around the world, and having an opportunity to express your creativity and knowledge can be of personal and professional benefit. Establishing a presence in the online world could offer personal benefit and improve the visibility of the nursing profession.




1. McCutcheon K, Lohan M, Traynor M, Martin D. A systematic review evaluating the impact of online or blended learning vs. face-to-face learning of clinical skills in undergraduate nurse education. J Adv Nurs. 2015;71(2):255-270. [Context Link]


2. Long JD, Gannaway P, Ford C, et al. Effectiveness of a technology-based intervention to teach evidence-based practice: the EBR tool. Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2016;13(1):59-65. [Context Link]