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The current health care standards require exceptional performance and excellence from the advanced practice nurse, and literacy becomes essential in practice regarding the concern. Also, literacy is the foundation of professionalism, and it allows specialists to develop fruitful collaboration and communication in the healthcare setting. The integration of computer technologies and IT services further require literacy from the advanced practice nurse.
The advanced practice nurse as a senior healthcare professional should possess a variety of skills, solid knowledge, and expertise in the medical field. These skills and knowledge are not limited to solely specialized fields and medical practice. Information literacy, health literacy, and information technology skills are crucial for any healthcare practitioner, including the advanced practice nurse. The paper will discuss the differences between these skills and types of literacy and describe their significance to the advanced practice nurse.
In the 21st century, the flow of information in an average person’s life is constantly increasing. Information literacy involves the ability to work with this stream. Information literacy is the ability to realize the need for information, effectively seek, analyze, and use it.
The ability to critically evaluate and select information is highly important. The main criteria for evaluating and selecting information are reliability, completeness, relevance, and consideration of the historical context.
There are several rules for assessing the reliability of the information. The first one is the rule of three sources: information is considered reliable if three different sources confirm it. Another rule is that there should be confidence in the author’s qualifications and knowledge: the information of the scientist-researcher deserves more trust than the information of the correspondent of the publication, known for its desire to publish sensational messages. One should assess the goals and objectives of creating information: a work written with the aim of collecting comprehensive material on a topic contains more reliable information than a work created to give an author’s interpretation of problems. It is essential to distinguish between facts and personal opinions: the author’s own opinion may distort the original meaning contained in the information used by him.
There are three categories of sources of information by the criterion of completeness. Sources of general information include dictionaries, reference books, encyclopedias. They provide initial, general information. Sources of special information are monographs, articles, industry encyclopedias, and reference books. They provide more detailed information on a specific topic. News bulletins, comments on texts, and archival materials are used as sources of additional information. They allow one to deepen and expand your knowledge.
Its relevance and modernity determine the relevance of information. The relevance of information is its significance “here and now.” The modernity of information is estimated by the time of its creation and the time of publication or updating of the source of information.
Consideration of the historical context is the most difficult. It is necessary to answer the question: could the author write what he thought, whether opportunistic considerations or (self) censorship affected his work? Overall, information literacy is essential for the advanced practice nurse because it allows them to seek adequately, analyze, process, and employ information for specific purposes. These purposes may be directly related to healthcare practice. They can also be connected with the advanced practice nurse’s scientific activity, such as research, studies, and quality improvement process.
Health literacy is about making informed decisions and taking actions to promote and protect health. Health literacy is the degree to which individuals can access, understand, evaluate, and communicate information to engage with the demands of different health contexts to promote and maintain good health across the life course (Lynch, 2015). Research shows that health literate patients are more able to make healthy lifestyle choices, communicate and interact with healthcare providers, access information and services, manage chronic disease, and engage with health education and promotion. Health literacy has advanced to shared responsibility, between the person receiving healthcare or treatment and the professionals and systems providing the care and treatment (Lynch, 2015). Health literacy is also a way to promote maintain and improve health across the life course
Health literate partners consider the role of health literacy in helping patients access, understand, evaluate and communicate information resulting in increased effectiveness in treating patients, better patient relationships, communication, and increased efficiency of the entire healthcare system, both public and private (Pleasant, 2014). Health literacy is a well-recognized asset across the globe as an effective evidence-based strategy for improving health outcomes and reducing health care costs. Health literacy is more than giving out health brochures and talking to patients (Edwards et al, 2012). It is a two-way street. Patients have a role in letting health care providers know their concerns, and when they do not understand what was said or have questions. Health care providers, including the advanced practice nurses, have a role in building a trusting relationship with patients and delivering messages that patients can understand (Geboers et al, 2015). Providers do not always know which patients have limited health literacy. Health literacy strategies should be used with all patients.
Information technology skills
The introduction of computer-based systems and advanced information technologies into the operation of the healthcare facilities requires medical practitioners, particularly advanced practice nurses, to possess basic knowledge and information technology skills. It enables the improvement of the quality of healthcare services and adequate employment and usage of the technologies. In order for nurses to be able to work with the computer-based systems and to be able to support their patients effectively, they need at the very least to have the skills and knowledge to use information technology (IT) efficiently and safely (Bond, 2007). Nevertheless, practicing nurses frequently prove to have poor IT skills and cannot work effectively with advanced equipment and systems.
There is no list of universal IT skills for nurses. One approach suggests that competencies required of nurses include a range of knowledge and skills falling under the remit of nursing informatics, including clinical informatics, and information governance and information security, as well as basic IT skills (Bond, 2007). While it depends on the particular nurse whether they strive to improve their IT skills, most modern healthcare facilities require all the nurses to have basic IT expertise to use advanced equipment and systems and provide high-quality care.
Overall, the differences between information literacy, health literacy, and information technology skills are significant. Health literacy is about having expertise in the healthcare field, effectively communicating with patients, and building trustful relationships. Information literacy is the ability to work with different types and sources of information. Information technology skills are the ability to understand, utilize, and apply computer-based systems in healthcare practices to improve their quality. While health and information literacy is about principles and knowledge, information technology skills are more practical and require experience as well as sufficient expertise. The advanced practice nurse must possess all the listed skills and literacy to be integrated into the advanced technological environment in the modern healthcare facility.
Bond, C. S. (2007). Nurses’ requirements for information technology: A challenge for educators. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 44(7), 1075–1078. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2007.01.009
Edwards, M., Wood, F., Davies, M. et al. The development of health literacy in patients with a long-term health condition: the health literacy pathway model. BMC Public Health 12, 130 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-12-130
Geboers, B., Brainard, J.S., Loke, Y.K. et al. The association of health literacy with adherence in older adults, and its role in interventions: a systematic meta-review. BMC Public Health 15, 903 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-015-2251-y
Lynch, J. P. (2015, December 11). Why health literacy is essential for nurses to embrace. Nurse.com. https://www.nurse.com/blog/2015/12/11/why-health-literacy-is-essential-for-nurses-to-embrace/.
Pleasant A. (2014). Advancing health literacy measurement: a pathway to better health and health system performance. Journal of health communication, 19(12), 1481–1496. https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2014.954083