Colleges tap technology to prevent ‘burnout’ in nursing students

“We’re very competency focused—it’s not like a math major,” Berman said. “Students need to learn how to use their knowledge in the actual delivery of care, and faculty need to know where each student stands.”

Maura Connor, director of digital learning and assessment for Pearson Education, said the tracking system—which will be used in nursing schools this summer after a series of pilot programs—measures student progress against standards used to create licensure exams that prospective nurses must pass before they can practice.

“It’s very numbers and data driven, it’s very concrete,” she said. “So it’s an intuitive way for [nursing faculty] to determine a student’s strengths and where they may need remediation.

Connor and Berman said improving nursing faculty’s ability to address student shortfalls before they encounter the burnout of nursing training would help fill longtime nursing shortages across the country.

More than 121,000 job ads for registered nurses were posted in May 2011, a 46 percent increase from May 2010, according to Wanted Analytics, which tracks employment openings.

The nursing field thrived even during the recession that officially began in December 2007 and lingered until the end of 2009. The health care industry added more than 400,000 jobs during that span, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nursing job growth is expected to grow through the current decade, according to federal statistics. The registered nurse workforce will grow by 22 percent by 2018, and by 2025, the nursing shortage is projected to stand at 260,000 unfilled jobs.

Without renewed attention to the nursing school strains that lead to burnout, Berman said, colleges and universities won’t be able to help fill those growing shortages.

“The novice nurse is always susceptible to burnout,” she said. “They face long shifts and lots of patients. … We need to communicate and help them deal with those things.”

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