7123500827_06c5e418af_z (1)In all of my recent learning about Social Media and the potential benefits of integrating its use into both health care and education I had not yet grasped the purpose of the hashtag. Some people seem to love them while others mock them but, whether I use hashtags or not, I do need to understand them. Their use is clearly summed up in The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag, “On Twitter, the pound sign (#) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords.” Clicking on a hashtag allows you to see all of the posts that mention the subject in real time.

There is no preset list of hashtags. If you want to use a specific hashtag you can search directory services like tagdef.comtwubs.com and hashtags.org to see if it is already being used. If not, just put the hash (#) before your word or series of words (no spaces or punctuation marks) and you will have created a brand new hashtag. There are many directories and compilations of hashtags with a specific focus. The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education lists over 200 hashtags categorized into topics of interest to educators. 14 Twitter Hashtags for Nursing Students to Monitor shares several hashtags that could support students’ studies and broaden their understanding of the profession.

So, are hashtags just a fun and trendy thing to use or do they have a real purpose? Twitter is a busy place and hashtags are a way to aggregate tweets, categorizing messages with specific words or phrases. Anibel Paheco posted 7 Ideas for Using Hashtags in the Classroom including such suggestions as creating threads for class discussions and creating class messaging systems. For those planning to use Twitter as a teaching tool, the understanding and use of hashtags seems essential.


Culture and Grief

medium_6789125591As human beings, we are molded by a rich interplay between physical, psychological, sociological, behavioural and cultural experience. The impact of culture upon individual experience is of specific interest to nurses as societies become increasingly multicultural. Increases in worldwide mobility, ease of migration, and fertility rates all demand an expanded cultural awareness and the incorporation of transcultural health perspectives in clinical practice. One human experience that occurs universally throughout all cultures is grief.

As nurses attempting to provide culturally safe care to grieving clients we must remember the individualized nature of the grief experience and differences in its manifestations across cultural lines. Developing an understanding of culturally defined mourning rituals, traditions and behavioural expressions of grief also present an essential key, assisting us to move beyond Western assumptions of “normal” reactions or “healthy” ways of coping. With a deepened understanding through cultural assessments, knowledge and an openness to diversity we can move to incorporate cultural practices into our clients’ care. Furthermore, we can help our clients to understand the meaning of their loss, a task crucial to working through grief. As with the overall experience of grief, loss carries with it different meanings from person to person and culture to culture.

Nursing Skills

7901391994_dabb922974_zWatching review videos can help to increase nursing students’ confidence and competence in performing nursing skills independently. Some students like to watch videos prior to coming to the class where the skill will be taught, others use them as a guide when practicing after class. There are many free videos available online and students should be aware of potential differences in supplies used as well as policy and procedure followed. If in doubt, students should always check with their instructor to ensure that they are practicing in a manner supported by recent, reliable research. Hawknurse on Youtube offers a series of  videos prepared by a  nursing instructor from Delaware, USA. The University of Manitoba also has a wide range of skills videos with the benefit of a Canadian perspective; Year 1 and Year 2.

Game-based Learning in Nurse Education

tut3_image1Although the current body of research about the effectiveness of game-based learning in nursing education is limited, anecdotal evidence as well as research from other disciplines point to gaming as a positive strategy for learning. As Stokowski (2013) remarked, “Collaboration, communication and clinical reasoning requires practice in many different situations, complex and stressful environments, and fast-paced clinical events. The flexibility, variety, and multitude of outcomes offered by games are uniquely able to provide such practice without any risk to patients (p. 7)”.

Clearly practicing nursing skills and clinical judgement though gaming cannot substitute working with real people in real situations. However, it seems that when used as a compliment to classroom, laboratory, and clinical learning, gaming has the potential to increase knowledge, critical thinking, and behaviour acquisition.

One game that I’ve used with great success is The Blood Typing Game found at Nobelprize.org. This game helps students understand the concept of blood typing and the importance of compatibility in blood transfusions.


Graphic Facilitation

5443118269_0b1e456238_oSeveral years ago my department hired a graphic facilitator for a series of team meetings. I was struck by how her techniques helped to keep everyone on track with brainstorming and teamwork. The constant images were interesting and engaging. Everyone seemed eager to participate and to see what would come up next. Last year I started experimenting with this technique using coloured pens on the large white boards in my classroom. The students loved it! I’m no artist but the images really can be quite simple. Since it is all new to me I roughly sketch in advance what images I will use to go along with the information I am sharing or to organize students’ collaborative work. Once you have seen the amazing graphic facilitation adapted from this talk by Sir Ken Robinson on Changing Education Paradigms you’ll have an idea of how effective the strategy can be.

Check out this link to Learning Graphic Facilitation, it’s a really fun way to teach and to engage your students.  

Social Media Use in Nursing Education

1175879764_d26b43bd86_zIn 2013 the Globe and Mail reported that almost 70% of Anglophone Canadians are regular social media users (Oliveira, 2013). Considering this significant usage it has become critical for businesses, politicians, educators, and users to assess how best to utilize this new mode of communication. In a 2012 article in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing the authors explore the benefits, barriers  and practicalities of integrating social media within nursing education.  They discuss social media tools as pedagogy, review  specific studies in the literature, and offer practical suggestions and examples of use within courses and programs. One indicated resource of use to Canadian nursing instructors is a toolkit recently released by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario to “help educators to embed informatics content within undergraduate education” (as cited in Schmitt, Sims-Giddens, and Booth, 2012, para 3). (This resource is now posted as a link under Nurse Education)