Bridging the Gap to Equal Access to Professional Development Meetings With Remote Virtual Technology

Sunday, 30 July 2017: 1:35 PM

Francisca J. Farrar, EdD
Deborah Ellison, PhD, MSN
School of Nursing, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN, USA

Nurses face many challenges to balance work, lifelong learning, and personal life. Nursing is a caring profession that is physically and mentally draining. With the growing demands upon the nursing profession to provide evidence-based practice that promotes safe, accountable, and quality care, nurses must learn to balance their schedule to attend professional development activities and stay abreast of current issues. Nurses are encouraged to be active in their professional organization and attend continuing education events. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between technology and remote virtual attendances at professional nursing meetings that have professional development activities.

 The Tennessee Nurses Association Music City District 3 has 500 active members that pay dues regularly, geographically covers 18 counties in middle Tennessee from the border of Kentucky to the border of Alabama, and has an average of 20 members attending district meetings. A new president of the district was concerned about the inactivity of the majority of the members. This attendance and engagement problem lead to a search for a solution from evidence-based literature to answer three research questions: 1) What are the barriers to attending meetings? 2) How can remote technology increase engagement in meetings? and 3) How can remote technology bridge the gap to equal access to meetings and professional development activities?

A search of the literature found that technology using remote web conferencing was a valid tool to provide remote access to meetings and professional development. It was found that remote web conferencing was cost effective and increased engagement of users. Two specific studies applied to this research study. The Association for Professional Development surveyed membership to determine technology usage and educational needs. Harper, Durkin, Orthoefer, Powers, and Tassinari (2014) found that technology was an emerging trend to facilitate learning and further research was needed to guide the impact of this expanding technology. A survey was conducted via an online survey to 3,400 members with a response rate of 39% (Harper et al., 2014). Telecommunication was found to be used by 32% of members for staff education using web conferencing (Harper, et al., 2014). Knapp, Fletcher, Taylor, Can, and Goetz (2011) discussed the development of a distance-learning model using web conferencing using a pilot test that provided an in-service on HIV testing at four full-service facilities and their associated satellite clinics that expanded over six states. The teleconferencing system was found to be cost-effective, reach remote clinics, and provided valuable education (Knapp et al., 2015).

This research study combined the following two models to serve as a framework to create a culture of change. Clark, Glazer, Edwards, and Pryse (2016) transformed their nursing program from the use of PowerPoints to an interactive engagement using an iPad with access to an iBook. The substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR) framework was used to transform the technology adoption. An iBook was substituted for the traditional lecture. In augmentation the iPad was used to record a skill to review later. Modification allowed the teacher to provide feedback and empowered skill acquisition. Redefinition allowed technology to develop new methods of teaching (Clark, et al., 2016). They concluded that faculty can create a culture of change to support technology using the SAMR Model. Winter (2016) used a different model to transform professional development with technology. The High-Performing (HPP) model was used that consists of four developmental levels. The restrictive level operates in the past, is ridged, and change is limited. The responsive level operates in the present but learners are passive while the leader owns the issues. The proactive level is future oriented with the educator role being a coach and facilitator. The progressive level is a global holistic approach with standards of excellence. This is a high performing stage and adoption of change. In the high-performing level all parties are engaged with ownership and accountability. Learning is transformed to a practice of excellence (Winter, 2016). Technology transformation occurs at the high-performing level with embracement of technology, research, and professional development (Winter, 2016).

The literature search included a global application for remote teleconferencing and found barriers do exist in using technology globally and need to be considered. Irinoye, Ayandiran, Fakunle, and Mtshali (2016) conducted a survey about nurses’ perceptions and barriers to the use of information communication technology in a teaching hospital in Nigeria. Data from the study found that 37.8% of nurse respondents had not had any formal training in informatics technology while 55.6% of the nurses reported lack of access to informatics technology. Barriers were identified as inadequate number of computers, unreliable network connections, poor system design, discouragement by colleagues, high work demand, inadequate informatics knowledge, lack of training and skills, and lack of encouragement (Irinoye, et al., 2016 ). The authors call for more education in nursing education programs and in-services on informatics technology because this skill is needed for evidence-based practice. The 2016 World Congress on Continuing Professional Development: Advancing Learning and Care in the Health Professions used webcast live for more than 12 hours of Congress sessions to create live and on demand presentations. The webcasts were archived until the next Congress in 2020 (Turco and Baron, 2016).

 Available web conferencing software was researched to match the needs of the district. A user friendly cloud-based video communication software was selected that provided remote video conferencing in which a link could be sent to members to access the district meeting and educational program. The software provided members the ability to remotely enter the web conference by online access by a computer, iPad, or smart phone. It also provided the option of calling into the meeting. The software allowed a host to control the recording and save the meeting using a code number to upload the meeting and educational program to the district website for access to the meeting post web conferencing. Remote members had the ability to ask a question via telephone or in a chat room. This communication feature empowered engagement of members and virtual participation in the meeting. Saving of the meeting empowered entering the meeting at their leisure and the code number allowed validation of attending the educational activity and receiving a continuing education certificate.

 District members received an email about pilot testing of a district meeting using remote access. An announcement was also posted in the Tennessee Nurses Association newsletter. The pilot test revealed the need for a microphone for audience questions and the need for an attachable video camera to show the speaker and scan the audience to create a virtual meeting. The pilot testing of the remote access increased attendance from 20 to 40 members doubling the regular attendance number. After the pilot test, an email was sent to members about the remote access availability with a link to the web conference for the next scheduled meeting. The attendance in person was 60 and remotely was 20. The attendance number increased from the average 20 members to 80 members. Remote members were allowed to ask questions and interact with the members in person and the speaker.

A survey monkey was sent to 400 members that provided email addresses post intervention that consisted of ten questions ranging from 1 to 5 with five rating strongly agreeing. One hundred surveys were returned with a 25% return rate. Research question 1: Barriers to attending meetings were a) conflict with work schedule and fatigue with a score of 4.40, Research question 2: Technology intervention to increase access scores were a) ability to receive remote continuing education units score was 4.52, b) ability to access the uploaded meeting to the website at leisure score was 4.38, c) Remote access empowers engagement score was 4.38, d) remote access to live attendance score was 4.37, and e) the use of live video conference of meeting score was 4.37. Research question 3: The belief that remote access can transform activity and engagement in meetings score was 4.56. Data analysis reveals that technological remote access can increase attendance at meetings, alleviate barriers to attending meetings, and can transform engagement at virtual meetings via remote web conferencing.

Remote access availability can transform nursing by providing equal access to professional meetings. Virtual meetings can increase attendance and engagement amongst members. Meetings uploaded to a website can provide access to meetings and continuing education activities. This study validates that remote availability bridges the gap to access to sharing meetings from a district to global level.