Let’s Stop Dragging our Feet

Danskos are the end-all-be-all of nursing footwear. Disclaimer: I did not get free shoes in the making of this article. They may be pricey, but it feels like you’re walking on clouds. They allow you to walk long distances, stand for twelve hours plus, and have full support that tennis shoes cannot provide. It typically takes a few weeks to break these shoes in. Like many instances in life, shoes can provide a great metaphor: Danskos are similar to how nurses and nursing students feel about digital media. It hurts at first but eventually will make their lives much easier.

Dansko Clogs

As a nursing student, I understand the struggle of incorporating digital media into my education. Most days I would rather use Powerpoint in black and white than use a presentation tool that could capture my audience. As a nurse, the majority of your day is spent educating patients, so typically education trumps entertainment. But if your material bores the patients or classmates you won’t achieve your intended result. By using digital media more often nursing students can profit from the knowledge and resources that are available to us.

So what is digital media? Microsoft helps us out by defining digital media as a “text, audio, video, and photo content that has been encoded (digitally compressed).” (What is Digital Media? 2010). A few examples of digital media are social media websites, podcasts, and presentation websites. While most majors have updated to incorporating digital media as a vital form of education, nursing is still dragging their feet. Proper social media presence is briefly discussed in freshman year nursing classes, however is rarely applied to the classroom.

There are countless advantages to using digital media in nursing education. Everyday new technology becomes integral to nursing practice. Nursing websites provide a place for discussion and debate on new and controversial practices in medicine. Nursing association websites enable professional relationships to continue to grow. By joining online organizations through professional nursing sites, we have access to new knowledge in the field along with evidence-based practices. Digital media allows for nurses to be involved in research and education more than ever before because research is digitally available. As students, digital media can enhance the understanding of medicine and assist in communicating the information to others.

An aspect of digital media is social media, such as Twitter, that in real time can enhance clinical decision making skills in critical situations. Nursing instructors have used twitter to tweet about clinical scenarios and have students answer questions in real time and give feedback. This is a way to quicken nursing students’ decision making time. YouTube is also an important tool for all nursing students. All Marquette nursing student often use YouTube as a resource to see how to perform skills, yet have never made their own. We can incorporate social media into our daily practices and classes. Instead of writing a paper, why not write a script and make a YouTube video? We can be adding to the repository of nursing education online as well as learning from others.

A stethoscope surrounding social media icons representing how SM is important in the health fields.

Nursing students use digital media everyday yet most do not create their own for educational purposes. Most of us share documents and learn from videos and e-learning environments. Social media enables group learning and develops social skills relevant (even necessary) to nursing and communal writing when used in the properly. Social media is often not practiced in nursing education, despite being such an important aspect of our future careers. It allows for flexible learning that is cost and time effective. Most digital media products are free or cheaper than a textbook. Digital media is very easily accessible and allows for peer support in learning. Peer teaching is one of the best ways to prepare for our future careers in which educating others is a high priority.

We have to be wary with digital media, however, especially with social media. An important aspect of digital media is that it follows you throughout your entire life. Professional relationships can suffer very easily through a digital footprint. Lack of professionalism in digital media resources, most commonly social media, can ruin your reputation (read: maybe your profile picture shouldn’t be one taken at a party). This is why it is important to learn how to have a professional online persona so that when we starting using professional discussion boards, blogs and organization websites we will be prepared.

Cartoon regarding privacy and HIPAA protocols.

A concerning aspect of having a more online presence is the negative impact it can have to patients including their lack of privacy and your lack of privacy with patients. Writing about your patient situations as a learning experience and then publishing it allows patients to lose a sense of privacy despite following HIPAA protocols. Having a thoughtless digital presence may result in your patients losing their trust in you. There are, however, many ways to avoid such consequences, and adding digital media components to our classrooms can help ensure that we maintain a professional reputations.

Despite digital media being such a great tool, teachers do not often update their curriculum to incorporate digital components. The biggest barrier to digital media in nursing education is teachers: “In 2012, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) noted that the average age of nursing professors was over 60 years, associate professors over 57 years, and assistant professors over 51 years. In addition, risks of policy or privacy violation, time, cost, and lack of familiarity with technology continue as barriers for nursing faculty in adoption of new technology into curricula” (Social Media and Nurses: Insights for Promoting Health for Individual and Professional Use. 2014). Older nursing professors are less likely to incorporate new ways of teaching. Because of this reality, a new initiative called TIGER (Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform) was created to assist educators in incorporate more digital media into their nursing classes (Ball, M., & Skiba, D. J. 2007). The program teaches nursing educators to develop digital media such as virtual reality simulators, presentation websites, Linkedin, Twitter, podcasts, e-portfolios, and even Wikipedia into nursing education. This is an initiative to bridge the gap in learning, so students can receive the most of their nursing education. As the generation that has grown up using digital media on a daily basis, we also need to advocate for our own education and encourage our teachers to use more digital media.

Image of feet attached to ropes.

As students we can easily involve digital media into our classes ourselves by using different sources to provide information. By using Prezi for a project rather than a regular Powerpoint, we can create a more interactive way of providing information. We can create portfolios on Wordpress to keep all our medical writings in one place for both our own reference and future employers. We can get involved in professional organizations and online education services to update ourselves with current practices. We can follow medical twitter accounts and subscribe to nursing podcasts. Digital media in nursing education benefits outweighs the negative consequences of poor media use. Incorporating digital media into nursing education is vital for the nursing field. The nursing education community needs to stop dragging its feet and update our education for the benefit of its students. So let’s break in our digital media clogs and start using digital media tools that will advance not only our own learning but medical education in the future.


Ball, M., & Skiba, D. J. (2007). The TIGER Initiative Evidence and Informatics Transforming Nursing: 3-Year Action Steps toward a 10-Year Vision. Retrieved January 2, 2017, from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/education-resources/TIGER.pdf

Social Media and Nurses: Insights for Promoting Health for Individual and Professional Use. (2014). Retrieved January 2, 2017, from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol-19-2014/No3-Sept-2014/Insights-for-Promoting-Health.html

Tuominen, R., Stolt, M., & Salminen, L. (2014). Social Media in Nursing Education: The View of the Students. Retrieved January 2, 2017, from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/edri/2014/929245/​

Ventola, C. L. (2014, July). Social Media and Health Care Professionals: Benefits, Risks, and Best Practices. Retrieved January 2, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103576/

What is Digital Media? (2010, April 26). Retrieved January 3, 2017, from https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/what-is-digital-media-2(v=ws.11).aspx