The Role of Computers and Technology in Health care Education

The Role of Computers and Technology in Health care Education

Jan K. Hart (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-74-2.ch016


The goal of health care education at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is a good nurse, doctor, pharmacist, or allied health professional—a well-prepared health care professional who is knowledgeable, knows how to get information as needed, and knows how to use information in a clinical practice setting. The health care professional is trained and practices in a computer- and network-intensive environment where distributed access to electronic information—the medical literature, medical records, and laboratory data—is needed and is increasingly expected. It is during their education that professionals learn to use and value the electronic tools at their disposal. Institutions like UAMS search for ways to support teaching faculty, clinical educators, and students in making the most of useful computer-based practice tools, information resources, and educational technologies. Computer literacy, faculty development, facilities planning and support, access issues, and incorporation of increasingly sophisticated educational modalities are key elements in successful education at UAMS. The use of technology in health care and health care education is unavoidable and growing more so daily. The convergence of the Internet and Internet 2 and other federal and state initiatives for faster and more extensive networks, combined with continually falling prices for increasingly powerful computers, has created a climate full of promise as well as unmitigated hype. It is often assumed that everyone is being swept along by the tide of computer technology and that the impetus of the tide will prepare faculty and students for this new age in medical education. It is wrong to assume that all faculty and students are prepared to use and manage sophisticated medical informatics tools. UAMS is looking beyond the myths of computer literacy to make a realistic appraisal of the computer readiness of their faculty and students, so that appropriate help and support is available. This case study illustrates the ways that information technology is used in health care education at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and other health care education institutions. It addresses the problems that must be overcome and the advantages and opportunities that information technology tools provide for health care education. It examines this in light of the changing face of health care and, consequently, health care education.

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