Online Orientation for Graduate Students: Break-Out Sessions for Nurse Practitioner Specialties

Friday, April 24, 2015
Key Ballroom 11-12 (Hilton Baltimore)
Tracey Taylor-Overholts, DNP, ACNP-BC, RN, Adult Health Nursing, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL and Heather Hall, PhD, RNC, NNP-BC, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL
A university's College of Nursing (CON) on-line graduate and doctoral programs have grown exponentially. The on-campus orientation presented multiple challenges for the nurse practitioner students and the specialty coordinators.  The CON transitioned from a four day on-site orientation to an online format.  Bunn (2004) described students with varying computer skills that benefited from tutorials outside of coursework. ­­­­­­­Sakai, the University’s learning platform, was used to develop an orientation project site to introduce materials and lectures four weeks prior to the online orientation.  Nurse practitioner specialty coordinators recorded presentations using Camtasia technology to introduce the students to the specialty.  Coordinators moderated question and answer forums within the project site.  The orientation project site opened four weeks ahead of the start of the semester and new information was released weekly. The fourth week culminated in an online synchronous webinar with a scheduled agenda posted on the orientation site. Students received email invitations and registered for the webinar. 

Retention rates increase when students develop a sense of social connectedness (Ivankova & Stick, 2007).  Break-out sessions for each nurse practitioner specialty option were included on the agenda.  Students were able to interact with faculty and have questions answered in real time. The student feedback from the online orientations has far exceeded on-campus experiences and students are better prepared for the nurse practitioner specialty option coursework and to complete assignments in the online environment.

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