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YouTube utilization enhances nursing education


If, as a new nursing student you could watch a short video demonstrating a procedure before you actually had to try performing it yourself, wouldn’t you want to know where to find that video?

Nursing students today have that option. Amid the silly cat clips, school musical performances and zany antics posted to the social media Internet site YouTube, a variety of useful teaching tools is also available. Nursing educator Leighsa Sharoff, RN, EdD, NPP, AHN-BC, thinks they have a role in educating today’s nurses.

Innovation and ease

“The use of YouTube in nursing education classes provides an easy, innovative and user-friendly way to engage today’s nursing students,” Sharoff said. “YouTube presentations can be easily adapted into nursing courses at any level, be it a fundamentals course for undergraduate students or a theoretical foundations course for graduate students.”

Sharoff, an assistant professor at Hunter College School of Nursing in New York City, said she’s received very positive feedback from students since she began using YouTube in her teaching. She published “Integrating YouTube into the Nursing Curriculum” in the September 2011 issue of The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing.
“I started using YouTube videos in about 2008 when I became the coordinator of simulation for our college,” Sharoff said. “Students didn’t have a clue what simulation was, so I found some YouTube videos about it.”

Sharoff discovered that students’ anxiety about their simulation lab experiences decreased when they viewed a visual depiction of what to expect. Videos might portray assisting at a vaginal birth, Foley catheter insertion technique, or giving a bed bath. Eventually, Sharoff began integrating YouTube in her pharmacology and pathophysiology classes and psych nursing clinicals.

Digital experts

Most of today’s nursing students, Sharoff said, are digital pros, experienced in using and communicating with social media. She believes, through her research and teaching experience, that social media such as YouTube encourage communication and collaboration and are valuable for synthesizing and disseminating information.

“Nurse educators need to be innovative, stimulating and engaging as they prepare future nursing professionals,” she said. “Increasingly, nursing students enter nursing programs experienced in the latest communication technologies and knowledgeable about various media offerings. Today it’s expected that nurse educators will use creative communication technologies to enrich the learning environment.”

Social media offers students alternatives in their learning. Sharoff said they find the stimulation exciting and appreciate that they can learn while on a bus or train, outside the traditional educational setting. “You can use a smartphone or a tablet computer in your studies because social media is a virtual environment,” Sharoff said. She added it also is a useful form of self-directed learning. After she recommendeds a YouTube video, students often search for other websites to enhance their understanding further.

Distance learning application

Online learning also fits well with distance learning. Sharoff said hunting for and using YouTube videos makes a fantastic assignment in her online women’s health class. One assignment directs students to hunt for a YouTube video that meets Sharoff’s criteria and descriptors about a women’s health topic, and then to decide as a small group which one they will discuss.

Sharoff said she thinks social media and other technology in nursing education also is essential for nontraditional nursing students, or those those not as immersed in social media or who haven’t grown up in the digital age. Integrating social media into these students’ education prepares them for the technology they will need as nursing professionals.

While there are plenty of YouTube videos that are questionable in content or accuracy, there are many worthwhile videos, even in 3-D, that explain topics such as how a drug works, oxygen transport through the body, or the development of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

Sharoff said some nursing educators are beginning to integrate YouTube into their own curriculum and, as faculty change, more integration probably will occur.

“This is the digital age,” Sharoff concluded. “Students are traveling and being very mobile. Sitting in front of a computer isn’t the way to go anymore.” She foresees educators, students and also patients making more use of YouTube and other social media in the future.


About Author

Karen Schmidt, RN, is a freelance writer.

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