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From The CriticsReviewer: Martha M. Kennedy, RN PhD CCRN ACN(Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing)
Description: This is an interactive tool designed to bring clinical scenarios to life for, and develop critical thinking in, students of critical care nursing. The student is provided with a workbook and dual CD-ROM set for installation on a Macintosh or PC system.
Purpose: The format of this publication is unique, because it is meant to bring the practical experiences usually found only at the bedside to the computers and desks of students of critical care. This voyeuristic approach allows the student to learn in a safe environment where they can repeatedly examine and learn from the patient portrayals. Unfortunately, I was unable to fully explore the degree to which the authors meet this objective as I was unable to get the CD-ROM based scenarios to run consistently or completely.
Audience: A review of the content and questions listed in the workbook leads me to believe that the beginning critical care nurse or senior nursing student would benefit from this program. The questions related to patient scenarios are comprehensive and will encourage critical thinking and analysis.
Features: This workbook covers selected basics of a systems-based review of critical illness (cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurologic, renal, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems). The workbook also includes special populations, such as the high risk obstetric patient, perianesthesia management, multisystem organ dysfunction, transplant patients, and burn patients. Workbook questions are focused on areas important to the provision of quality care and should lead students and new nurses towards the desired level of practice at the bedside. Clinical reviews at the end of patient scenarios are available for assessments of student learning. The program is designed to create a virtual hospital, complete with hospital entry, nursing station, computers, and interaction with a preceptor. Although the computer system I used to review this product is new and fast, I was unable to observe all components of the CD-ROM, which includes video streaming, high resolution graphics, and high-quality sound. The program either froze and would shut down completely, or content would simply not appear as expected and described in the workbook. This difficulty continued even after following the detailed instructions provided by the authors. What was visible and functional was very crisp and clear. The patient and nurse interaction observed during an assessment was clear and representative of current practice. The patient centered content is very comprehensive (EPR, Kardex, MAR, doctor's notes, nurse's notes, intake and output recording, care plans, physical examinations, and more). This very thoroughness might be the downfall of the program, as the delays encountered while trying to move between screens and content were very frustrating and broke the rhythm of learning. If the student is not computer-savvy, the product would be intimidating and underused, even with instructions provided throughout the workbook.
Assessment: Although I did not have the book upon which this publication is based (Thelan's Critical Care Nursing: Diagnosis and Management, 4th Edition (Mosby, 2002)), I expect the product could stand alone and/or serve to accompany any basic critical care textbook. The interactive approach is very valuable, as long as the student is able to navigate the system and is able to get to all components easily and smoothly.