Pioneering Video System Links Students and Faculty Advisors

May 1, 2017

Each year, College of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) online students must complete more than 720 hours of clinical care with partners at various sites across an array of states – all under the guidance of University of Arizona FNP program faculty.

Getting a student, physician or nurse practitioner preceptor, patient willing to be evaluated, and the supervising faculty advisor all in a room together at the same time is a logistical conundrum. Many FNP students tap into the online program from out of state, making the faculty advisor’s responsibilities that much more complex to perform. That’s where the College’s focus on innovative technology comes into play with a forward thinking virtual supervision program that promises to be a game-changer not only at the University of Arizona but at colleges across the country.

“Each student has a clinical supervising faculty member tasked with evaluating their growing competence” said Associate Professor Allen Prettyman, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, Principal Investigator for the study, Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Student Clinical Skills Using a Synchronous Video System. “Coordination is a challenge with out-of-state students, but even locally it’s hard because students are spread over many sites. In Pima County alone you could spend over an hour driving to the clinical site and after spending an hour or two evaluating the student, suddenly half your day’s gone. We needed a more efficient method, which is how the idea of site tele-visiting arose.”

Now in its third year, the study is designed to evaluate the usefulness and ease of using the secure real time video system’s effectiveness in allowing clinical supervising faculty to remotely observe clinical skills; and the satisfaction that all parties have with the remote system and outcomes.

The technology system configuration has taken various forms over the course of the study, from suitcase-sized hardware to a Chromebook linked to a conference tower to – in its final and most compact iteration –a tablet enabled with the necessary apps. Network connection issues sometimes still appear, but Prettyman envisions a future where students entering the program will be loaned a tablet for use during the semester. “We’ll be able to watch the students, give them feedback, and mentor them in living color and in real time, as opposed to spot checking them by phone,” said Prettyman. “Most importantly, we can collaborate with our preceptor partners more easily and we can more frequently visit the sites and see the students – dynamics that increase the quality of the program.”

The system will save time, effort and money, and it is one way of ‘walking the talk’ about the College goals to create, test and seek innovative technologies for science, practice and education. Prettyman anticipates that other universities will be interested in the technology. “We all have the exact same challenge,” he said. “The UA College of Nursing can be known for something pretty unique that most other institutions haven’t been able to implement yet.”

Media contact: Jason Gelt, Communications and Content Specialist