Systems to meet the on-demand learning needs of nurses in intensive care units are not well studied beyond the traditional classroom models.
To study the feasibility and effect of implementing an online discussion forum for nurses in a busy neuroscience intensive care unit.
A baseline survey was done to highlight the areas of educational need in the unit. Freeform—a password-protected, online discussion forum supported by the university—was used for the pilot project. Freeform has functions similar to Facebook, with “likes,” “follow,” discussion/comment spaces, and the capacity for uploading images and files. A page called “All things NeuroCritical Care” was created. All nurses working in the intensive care unit were automatically enrolled. Clinical vignettes relevant to neurocritical care were posted once a month with 1 to 2 lead questions. All participation was voluntary, and topics were chosen on the basis of the needs survey. At the end of each case, a recent review article on the topic was posted for secure download.
Eight sentinel diagnoses have been presented as clinical vignettes, and 34 of 76 members formally follow the page. The mean number of discussion strings per case is 8.3 posts. The number of unique visitors to the page during active case discussions exceeds 100.
A secure, online, problem-based learning discussion format is a feasible point-of-care learning opportunity that can help overcome some of the traditional barriers to ongoing nursing education needs in a busy intensive care unit.