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RN integrates YouTube into curriculum to demonstrate procedures to students


If nursing students could watch a short video demonstrating a procedure before they actually had perform it themselves, wouldn’t they 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 also are available. Nursing educator Leighsa Sharoff, RN, EdD, NPP, AHN-BC, thinks they have a role in educating today’s nurses.

“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-Bellevue College School of Nursing in New York City, said she’s received 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.

Most of today’s nursing students, Sharoff said, are digital pros, experienced in using and communicating with social media. She believes 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 is a form of self-directed learning. After she recommends a YouTube video, students often search for other websites to enhance their understanding further.

Online learning 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 they decide as a small group which one they will discuss.

Sharoff said social media and other technology in nursing education are essential for nontraditional nursing students. Integrating social media into these students’ education prepares them for the technology they will need as nursing professionals.

Sharoff said some nursing educators are beginning to integrate YouTube into their own curriculum and, as faculty change, more integration most likely will occur. “This is the digital age,” she said. “Students are traveling and being very mobile. Sitting in front of a computer isn’t the way to go anymore.”


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Karen Schmidt, RN, is a freelance writer. Send letters to or post a comment below.

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