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Project Title: Using the PDA for Curriculum Enhancement

Award number: 0314
Project Leader: Dean Gross
Report Period: final

Project Description:

  • Personal digital assistants (PDA) are increasingly utilized as tools in healthcare settings. Simple to use and easy to update with additional software, the PDA is viewed as a solid technology. Although many health care providers/educators use PDAs primarily for administrative functions (e.g. as schedulers, address books), potential value is evident in the clinical/curricular arena as well. Numerous nurse practitioner graduate programs are struggling with finding the most efficient methodology in which to collect data about student/client encounters. Although nearly 7,500 PDA software programs are now available with over 700 related directly to healthcare clinicians and educators, none are specific to enhancement of the clinical/curricular needs for a graduate nursing program.

Progress toward Milestones:

  • 6/3/04 - Students complete orientation to handheld hardware and software. Completed on May 18th, 2004 with several updates throughout the summer of 2004.
  • 8/8/04 - Student client encounter summer data collected and submitted for analysis, faculty consider changes to enhance curriculum for fall 2004. Data was collected using Typhon software for patient tracking. After careful consideration of data collection software I selected Typhon as the vendor. They offered everything I was seeking in patient tracking with a PDA for nurse practitioner students and beyond. When this proposal was submitted this type of software was non-existent and prompted my desire to propose the purchase of HanDbase software and hire a graduate student to write the programming to collect patient data on the web and via a PDA. Data collected up to this point with the Typhon software is far better than ever anticipated. Software technical support has been outstanding, including tech support for faculty and students. Analysis of data gathered during the summer session of 2004 is progressing with implications for curriculum to be implemented spring semester 2005.
    Students have found the PDA a highly valuable resource in clinical practice. The ability to review prescription drugs with the free ePocrates Essentials software has been highly touted as an essential aid in providing patient care in the clinical setting. Numerous students have added additional software to facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of problems encountered in clinical.
  • 12/15/05 - Students found the PDA tracking software a valuable resource especially when compared to the previous web based documentation. Numerous graduate students have commented on the ease of use and the significant data collected. Typhon (upon request) provided a data sheet detailing the most frequently occurring disease states students are documenting as a diagnosis in clinical. NP faculty have used this data to ensure the most pertinent content is covered in the NP core classes including pharmacological implications. Student evaluations have remained extremely high, many believe they would have difficulty participating as efficiently in clinical without their PDAs.
  • 1/31/05 - Data will continue to collected with this cohort of students who started with the PDAs in the summer of 2004 until their graduation in the summer of 2005. The full impact of the use of PDAs to track clinical encounters and assist the student in clinical cannot be totally appreciated until the end of their clinical participation. I hope to publish the results and share with other NP faculty the validity of using PDAs in clinical practice to track client encounters.


  • Our nurse practitioner graduate program has found an efficient methodology in which to collect data about student/client encounters. Using PDAs and Typhon software is a reasonable approach.
    Student orientation of the PDA functions and applications have provided students the foundation required to use the PDA and collect appropriate data during their graduate nursing clinical rotations. Several students have been able to take pictures with their PDA of dermatological conditions for "show and tell" in class presentations. Selection of the Sony CLIÉ PEG-UX50 provided students with a valued piece of technology that can be utilized in the field. Having the ability to take the student/client encounter data collected at all the various clinical sites and located in one database appears to provide information that has not been readily accessible in the past. Faculty will be able to track student/client interactions throughout their curriculum.
  • 1/31/05 - Since the midterm report the accolades for using the PDA in clinical has only grown. I have received calls from several NP faculty from across the nation requesting consults on the validity of using the PDA for patient tracking in a NP curriculum. Our new NP students admitted fall 2004 have already expressed desire to find out what type of PDA they will need for clinical starting the summer of 2005. In their discussion with previous students they have found the necessity of having a PDA not only for patient tracking but pharmacology and a variety of other content usually found in textbooks. I plan on continuing using Typhon tracking software for at least the next two years to provide a strong foundation on which to base our future NP curriculum. Students will be responsible and expected to buy their own PDAs for use during their educational process in our graduate program. The initial reaction from students who have been informed of the need to buy their own has been highly favorable. They seem to understand the value of having a PDA to facilitate the NP educational pursuits.
    The Sony PDA bought for this project has been discontinued secondary to Sony's desire to no longer produce any PDAs in the United States. I have been encouraging those students/preceptors/faculty who are seeking a PDA to consider the Palm Tungsten 3 based on my reviews of information published on the web and personal accounts.
  • The remaining funds are anticipated to be used to continue covering the costs of using the Typhon tracking software for the next two years. The contract with Typhon includes an annual fee for PDA software/updates and the annual student tracking software. Total costs are about $1.325.00 per year, the cost can vary depending on the number of patients students input into the tracking software. Based on the current numbers I suspect the cost will be higher versus lower. Students will be expected to buy their own PDAs (Summer 2005) and use the patient tracking software. After two years
    either the department or the individual student will be responsible for the costs associated with the Typhon tracking software. Continued use of the Typhon tracking software is essential as we continue to evaluate the data being collected from our NP graduate student encounters in clinical. I feel that a three year period of software evaluation will provide a comprehensive collection of data and validate the necessity to continue using the tracking software and the impact on our curriculum in the NP graduate program.

Funding Summary:

NDSU fund number: 1534
Carryover: 0.00
Award: 9306.00
YTD expenses: 6065.44
Anticipated remaining expenses: 3241.56
Unspent amount: -1.00

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Last Updated: Monday, August 08, 2011 1:36:53 PM
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