Electronic Health Records in Simulations and Its Effects on Student Knowledge of Patient Condition

India--KAtie 347
Katie Stevenson with a child in India (2013).

Charting patient records is a critical part of a nurse’s daily routine. With today’s advanced technology many healthcare institutions have attempted to adapt charting systems to digital formats to make it the process easier. However, some believe using a digital format is not as effective as the typical handwritten format.

Katie Holiday, along with her mentor, Debra Wing, decided to look more closely at how charting procedures are being used, and whether digital or handwritten methods are better at helping nurses remember the patients they work with. As a senior, Katie oversaw nursing simulation classes of lowerclassmen. This allowed her to test different charting methods with undergraduates that were largely unfamiliar with any type of charting.

Katie knew that she wanted to study the effectiveness of different charting methods because of how important it is to nursing. She said, “Charting is a tool used by healthcare institutions to document the care, condition and progress of patients throughout their hospital stay. There is a saying within nursing that says, “If it wasn’t charted, it didn’t happen.”

Katie decided to develop her own charting tools based on her experience in a clinical setting. She made two versions of the tool that were identical in content, but one was to be used in a digital format, and the other was to be handwritten. She then split her subjects into two groups to test each version of the charting tool. Upon analyzing her data she found that there was no statistical difference in how well each group understood their patients’ situations as she had initially thought. However, she did find a distinct difference in the amount of mistakes made on the survey given to the subjects after they completed the charting exercise. The subjects who charted with the digital format made twice as many mistakes on the survey as those who charted with the handwritten format.

She said of her results, “While I did not expect there to be this difference it does support my original hypothesis that handwritten charting does help students learn, understand, and remember what occurs in simulations.”

Debra Wing
Debra Wing on a trip with nursing students.

Katie’s study provided her with the opportunity to share her findings at the HPSN World Conference in Florida last May. Since then she has had many professors from other universities reach out to her asking to have access to the charting tools she developed. Participating in the Mentoring Program has propelled Katie to truly make a change in her field and has been an experience she will always remember as she works as a nurse.

Text pulled from the BYU ORCA Fall 2014 newsletter. Click here for a digital copy.

Published by BYU Nursing

Guided by the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we exemplify the Healer’s art by: leading with faith and integrity; advancing the science of nursing and healthcare; promoting health and wellness; alleviating suffering; and serving individuals, families, and communities. The mission of the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University is to learn the Healer’s art and go forth to serve.

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