What is the role of the nurse in information literacy?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nurses are, obviously, a vital cog in the health care process. They are usually the first medically-trained professional a patient entering a hospital or medical clinic encounters. They also, especially in hospital settings, spend far more time with the patient than attending physicians. In short, they constitute an important link in the transmission of information between patient and physician. Consequently, their role in the area of information literacy is considerable. Information literacy, however, is an ongoing continuous process, as information technologies evolve very rapidly and advances in diagnoses and treatments of illnesses similarly occur on a continuous basis. The challenge for nurses is summarized well in the following statement:

"Nurses, along with other healthcare professionals, live the reality of a short half-life of their professional and technical knowledge. The content mastered by graduation is soon outdated. Knowing how to seek, evaluate, and apply information is critical to insure ongoing professional competence."

So, nurses, like everybody else, are required to remain current in information technologies related to their responsibilities lest they grow increasingly expendable. This address the requirements of nurses with respect to information literacy. The role of nurses in information literacy, as noted above, is the responsibility of nurses to communicate with both patient and physician. With the proliferation in the use of electronic health records, or EHRs, the requirement for computer and information technology literacy is even more pressing. As another source noted on the topic:

"Nurses need to function at the level of Information Literacy in order educate patients and families on the EHR to incorporate evidence based practice, to evaluate the relevancy of information retrieved from the Internet and to incorporate evidence-based practice into their practice."

The role of nurses with respect to information literacy, then, is in their requirement to take from patients and process accurate information for records as well as for subsequent treatment by attending physicians. With routine software upgrades and the ever-expanding pool of resources available on the Internet, information illiteracy is not an option.