Author: Neesha Ridley – Senior Lecturer (School of Community Health and Midwifery)

The Royal College of Nursing (2018) recognise the change in the role of the nurse and midwife over recent years. Within health care, data and technology has become central to the work of nurses and midwives, where most students and staff already document all their work electronically and use mobile devices to aid the care that they offer. The challenge that many health care workers face is the pace that technology and digital needs are evolving. Many nurses and midwives often feel a lack of confidence when working with new digital systems, often noting a lack of digital literacy skills and a lack of confidence when embracing new digital systems (Royal College of Nursing, 2018). T

The lack of digital training and development of digital literacy skills within undergraduate education, is something that has been noted by the Royal College of Nursing (2018). If educational institutions emphasised digital skills, this could enhance a student’s employability skills and experience of coping with the digital systems implemented within health care settings. Health Education England (2017) note that nurses and midwives can only provide the best care to all if they embrace the potential of digital technologies. Employers are expecting the workforce to be fully competent, confident and capable in the use of digital technologies in the workplace and educational institutions have a duty to ensure that students are ready to embrace the digital world of healthcare (Health Education England, 2017) 

At the University of Central Lancashire, the midwifery curriculum prides itself on allowing students to develop digital literacy skills, encouraging students to be digital ready when seeking employment.  With employers often stating that digital skills are an essential requirement for those applying for the role of a newly qualified midwife, the team see this as an essential component of the midwifery course. Lecturers lead by example, by ensuring that all teaching and learning resources are delivered using digital approaches, encouraging the students to engage with these methods of learning. 

Each week, students are expected to present a summary of their learning, using a digital approach. This could range from interactive presentations to online quizzes and students are encouraged to present using a different digital approach each week. Digital approaches to assessments are also embraced within the midwifery curriculum, where students are encouraged to maintain a professional portfolio throughout the year, demonstrating their development throughout the course. These portfolios are presented using OneNote, which allows the students to use a variety of functions available through OneNote, to demonstrate an exciting and innovative portfolio. 

To capture the range of digital skills that students are developing throughout the course, and in collaboration with Chris Melia (Faculty learning technologist), the team have looked at introducing a new ‘DigiReady’ certification, where students can map their digital skills and present this portfolio to employers, demonstrating their commitment to embracing digital technology within the workplace. 

Employers often comment how digitally ready students from the University of Central Lancashire are, when they apply for jobs. By encouraging students to embrace and develop digital literacy skills, the University of Central Lancashire are equipping students with lifelong skills that they will use throughout their careers and ensures that students are confident and competent to provide care using digital systems in the work place.  

Royal College if Nursing (2018) Every Nurse an E-nurse: Insights from a consultation on the digital future of nursing. Accessed online https://www.rcn.org.uk/clinical-topics/ehealth/every-nurse-an-e-nurse  

Health Education England (2017) Digital literacy. Accessed online https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/digital-literacy  CMelia – Jisc Building Digital Capability Blog (2018) DigiReady: Equipping our students for the modern workplace. Accessed online https://digitalcapability.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2018/12/17/digiready/


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