The Challenges of Online Education With Respect to Accessing Health Policy Expertise

Saturday, 29 July 2017: 8:50 AM

Patricia A. Brennan, PhD
School of Nursing, Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA, USA


This project was undertaken to evaluate the utilization of available technology within the context of several on-line distance learning formats to access appropriate health policy expertise. This access was intended to provide the student an opportunity to critically appraise health policy relevant to clinical practice and learn skills to engage in policy development at the intersection of practice and research, as outlined in the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice


Session Objectives: At the completion of this presentation the participant will be able to

  1. Articulate the challenges of health policy education with respect to asynchronous, synchronous and hybrid course delivery formats
  2. Compare the effectiveness of various pedagogical approaches to delivering health policy content.
  3. Illustrate strategies to access health policy expertise in an effort to provide authentic exposure to the clinical relevance of health policy.
  4. Articulate the value of “social presence” in the on-line environment and how synchronous, asynchronous and hybrid course content delivery contribute to its development among geographically distant participants. 
  5. Explore inter-professional and international opportunities to collaborate on health policy education across local and geographically distant graduate programs.


Through the collaborative efforts of an inter-professional team, four on-line synchronous sessions were delivered during a semester-long Advanced Health Policy Course within a nursing doctoral program. One session included engagement with an NIH researcher and clinician from the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health. Similar content was delivered in an asynchronous and hybrid graduate health policy course.



Through the utilization of a distance-learning platform, “synchronous” exposure to an NIH researcher and health policy expert created ”social presence” among a cohort of geographically distant doctoral students. This delivery methodology wss compared to both a hybrid and asynchronous module with the same content. The pedagogy of synchronous on-line content delivery was compared to asynchronous and hybrid delivery of similar content. Insights for the faculty member will be shared with respect to the value and “cost” of providing “access” to “quality” experts in health policy development.

Implications for Policy Education:

Moving beyond the “webinar” model of asynchronous on-line education, the ability to create social presence through the integration of real time dialogue will provide opportunities for richer understanding of health policy and a more active engagement in health policy education. In addition, this model creates inter-professional opportunities to collaborate across geographically distant doctoral programs, while sharing both resources and expertise