New informatics course teaches nurses the ropes of computer aided care

Maribor 20 July 1998 In Slovenia, a major health care reform has been announced to provide excellent quality of care at reasonable costs for the whole of the population. Nurses are constantly being challenged to meet new tasks and responsibilities. This evolution has encouraged Professor Viljem Brumec, dean of the University College of Nursing and Professor Peter Kokol from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Maribor, to start up a short cycle degree course for Nursing Informatics and Computer aided Education (NICE). The three year project resides under the European Commission's TEMPUS PHARE section. Results and achievements will be disseminated to interested parties in other European countries.

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In Slovenia, a major health care reform has been announced to provide excellent quality of care at reasonable costs for the whole of the population. Nurses are constantly being challenged to meet new tasks and responsibilities. This evolution has encouraged Professor Viljem Brumec, dean of the University College of Nursing and Professor Peter Kokol from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Maribor, to start up a short cycle degree course for Nursing Informatics and Computer aided Education (NICE). The three year project resides under the European Commission's TEMPUS PHARE section. Results and achievements will be disseminated to interested parties in other European countries.

The concept of Nursing Informatics constitutes an innovative approach in health care, allowing nurses to offer more human and patient-oriented care with use of advanced information technology. As a result, the profession will yield greater satisfaction and become more of a vocation again. For this purpose, nurses have to get a chance to become familiar with medical state-of-the-art technologies. The NICE project works on developing a short cycle degree course in Informatics for the systematic education and training of nurses in an academic environment. This implies the set-up of a specialized curriculum, including a well equipped computer class-room and newly designed university syllabuses.

The Nursing Informatics course will address topics relating to the basics of computer technology and information systems in health care, while stressing the importance of valid international standards. Nurses will be taught how to acquire and visualize medical data as well as how to work with computer assisted medical techniques. Students will also learn to handle simulators and "expert" systems and to use emerging computer techniques applied in the field of telemedicine. The project team has a plan to translate the curriculum description and the educational materials, such as lecture notes, books, hard- and software, in several languages to share the gained knowledge and experience with other partner countries.

The project's steering committee, consisting of members from all partners, will permanently monitor and assess the quality of the ongoing work by means of standard management procedures. In the third year, a plenary meeting will control both the curriculum and the computer class-room in order to have the course formalized by the Ministry of Education and Sport. As a result, the proposed courses will start on an experimental basis. The NICE partners expect the initiative to play a major role at the institutional as well as the national level. In the long run, the educational process as a whole will be made compatible with those, offered in the rest of the European academic institutions and will meet the highest international standards. The quality of health care will rise but the overall costs will be lowered. Future developments can be followed at the NICE Web site.


Leslie Versweyveld

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