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Nursing Informatics & Technology: A Blog for All Levels of Users

Helping Retired Nurses Returning to the Workforce Embrace Health IT

Published December 18, 2014 1:26 PM by Susan Sportsman
Growing numbers of nurses are coming out of retirement to re-enter the healthcare workforce. Nursing informatics officers and nurse trainers must join forces to help veteran nurses understand and use the latest health information technologies and participate in technology-enabled learning.  

Nurse executives and managers may need to develop formal or informal centers for nursing informatics. These centers can help returning RNs master and integrate new and emerging technologies, while guiding nurse trainers on how to deliver health IT modules and courses, engage nurse learners and manage learning environments.   

Nurse trainers and instructors, in particular, must discover how to adapt traditional learning practices to technology-centered learning environments, making the most of resources like electronic learning management systems.

At Your Service

The key to the empowerment of returning RNs is offering online and print tools so they can better understand the function, scope, benefits and risks of health IT. The best approach is to develop an online self-service library that blends internal resources with those available through organizations like the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), American Medical Informatics Society and American Nursing Informatics Association.

In developing your self-service library, be sure to include syllabi, modules, course materials and videos of presentations, workshops and seminars. Also incorporate step-by-step guides on how to use a specific technology or participate in an enterprise-wide health IT initiative. For example, you could easily augment a guide focused on "Six Ways to Enhance Care Coordination" with blog posts, answers to frequently asked questions, and video clips from nurse trainers and practicing RNs.

Nurse trainers, facilitators and mentors benefit from health IT modules and course templates that showcase effective online learning. By experimenting with varied models and templates, nurse trainers can tap into the instructional strategies and techniques of others, including features like text-to-speech. They can also adapt content to specific groups like the formerly retired and integrate late-breaking medical and nursing evidence.  

Community Connections

While nurse trainers benefit from training in course and module design, HCOs will reap the rewards of inviting returning nurses into an enterprise-wide community of health IT practice. Essential to this community is a peer-to-peer network that identifies health IT knowledge, skill and competence and zeroes in on the quality and impact of online and offline training and learning.      

Begin by inviting diverse healthcare professionals-nurses, managers and executives-to join the HCOs health IT community. Be sure to involve professionals with expertise in clinical care, health IT and instruction, and other areas including young, mid-career and veteran nurses who are retiring, retired or just returned to the workforce. 

While some professionals in the community will focus on improving clinical, financial or operational performance through health IT, others may decide to concentrate on research, innovation, competency development or support and re-design of health IT learning modules and courses.

Most important is taking a positive approach to health IT instruction, learning and engagement. Returning nurses are neither technophobic, "set in their ways" nor "old school." They need no extraordinary hand holding or training.

Returning nurses may not use Instagram, but they will respond to actual, real-life examples of RNs who have experienced the benefits and results of health IT. They will also embrace health IT if they understand how it can improve quality, safety and efficiency, while saving time and transforming them into more highly competent and effective RNs.     

The path to turning returning nurses into health IT advocates is simple and direct. Consider the following steps: 

  • Offer returning nurses solid reasons to re-examine their biases, attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors related to technology and health IT.
  • Show them how to use new and emerging health IT and learning tools.
  • Give them time to experiment and practice with health IT. Offer opportunities to work with mobile, electronic health records and data analytics, for example.
  • Deliver plenty of encouraging feedback, coaching and mentoring. Pair returning nurses with experienced technology users and create a network of nurse professionals with expertise in specific areas of technology.
  • Reward learning and change. Nothing is more engaging than a ceremony or awards program that celebrates newly acquired health IT skills and competencies.

Don't say goodbye to nurses who claim to be retiring or who have already retired. Tell them how nurses are using health IT to make a difference in the lives of patients, families and other clinicians. Invite them to special open houses and launches or new technologies. And keep them engaged with regular communications on the power and impact of nursing informatics.    


"New Program Brings Retired Nurses Back to the Bedside"

"Hospitals Set Sites on Recruiting and Retraining Retired or Retiring Nurses"

"Nurses Are Delaying Retirement, Helping to Forestall Severe Shortage"

Nursing Shortage


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    Occupation: Nursing informatics experts and enthusiasts
    Setting: Various settings in healthcare and academia
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