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Keywords:

  • new entrants;
  • IT experience;
  • IT competence;
  • attitudes to IT

Planning for information technology key skills in nurse education

New recruits to courses in nursing, midwifery and health visiting come from a wide range of educational backgrounds and it is reasonable to expect that this diversity will also be reflected in the range of their experience and competence with information technology (IT). Accommodating such variety can make the planning of appropriate training to enhance and develop their IT skills difficult. In order to explore the likely extent of diversity in IT experience and skills in today’s recruits, the project reported here examined the competence, attitudes and previous IT training of two consecutive cohorts of new entrants to a higher diploma programme. The surveys add weight to the view that nurse educators do face a considerable diversity in new students’ competence and experience with IT. Further analysis has also shown that subgroups of the cohorts, characterized by their age, gender, education or previous IT training, differed significantly in a ‘knowledge of computers’ score but not in their attitudes to IT. Arising from the results, the paper argues that, in seeking to develop a consistent level of IT literacy, core IT competence should be identified and all courses should have the clear objective of raising students’ confidence in using computers.