YouTube in Nursing Education

April 18th, 2012


By , BSN, RN 

With the arrival of the latest edition of the AORN (Association of peri-Operative Registered Nurses) Journal my attention was grabbed by a cover headline, “Using YouTube in Perioperative Nursing Education.” YouTube, oh my gosh, it’s infiltrating everything—nursing and education.

Actually, I’m not surprised. Since YouTube’s inception at the end of 2005, the world’s largest video-sharing web site, has grown to over three billion views per day by users in 25 countries around the world. According to their own Facebook Timeline, “48 hours of video are uploaded every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day.” What that means is there are endless opportunities for using this phenomenon to teach, to learn and to share information on every subject, everywhere, including nursing.

Using innovative teaching strategies like shared video is a great way to meet the needs of a multigenerational, highly technical nursing population. YouTube’s universality can bring together educators, clinicians, and students from all over the world. Companies launch videos that teach about new healthcare products, government agencies use YouTube to promote everything from hand hygiene to diagnosing PTSD, and only a step away from that are the webinars we talked about in another blog, that allow for attending seminars and education sessions in a virtual world.

Up-To-Date is Less Distracting

Last year, the American Nurses Association (ANA) added a research paper to its website, “Integrating YouTube into the Nursing Curriculum.” The writer, Leighsa Sharoff, EdD, RN, NPP, AHN-BC, is an Associate Professor at the City University of New York in the Hunter College School of Nursing (SON). She is the Coordinator of Simulation and Learning Resources for the SON and has been an early adapter regarding the process of integrating technology into nursing curriculum. Sharoff explains how YouTube offers educators and learners alternative/supplemental sources of timely, health-related videos. This is more important than you might think. I’ll tell you one reason why:

When I was in nursing school, just over 10 years ago, nursing videos were dreadful for the most part. Many were terribly out of date to the point of distracting. My classmates and I would get so hung up in the poor nursing technique (no gloves when handling blood or anything else for that matter), the outdated uniforms and behaviors, or simply the poor presentation style that much of the actual message would be missed. In fact, my goal at the time was to some day produce nursing videos that were interesting, informative, and up to date. Today, there is YouTube.

Choosing Your YouTube Interaction

Searching for videos on YouTube is called hunting and it takes a certain skill; pretty much the same as using a search engine. Type in exactly what you want in the search box, then be prepared with synonyms. Nursing instructors can even include their students in this hunting expedition. This is a another way for engage teachers and students in dialogue, a much more effective teaching tool than another lecture at another podium.

In an interview earlier this month with, Sharoff said, “"Nurse educators need to be innovative, stimulating and engaging as they prepare future nursing professionals," she said. "Increasingly, nursing students enter nursing programs experienced in the latest communication technologies and knowledgeable about various media offerings. Today it’s expected that nurse educators will use creative communication technologies to enrich the learning environment."

This seems particularly true when the learning environment is the home. For all the thousands of nursing students taking part in distance or online learning, supplementing class discussions on chat boards with video can really make the class more interactive. There is no doubt social media is quickly becoming integral to healthcare and putting today’s technology to use in the classroom better prepares nursing students to put it to use at the bedside.

Now, both teachers and students do have to take a certain amount of care when integrating YouTube videos into their education process. YouTube is similar to Wikipedia in that it is comprised entirely of user-uploaded content, meaning that a good amount of it might not be reliable, verifiable, or appropriate. Faculty should review and evaluate all videos before including them in the course content. And, students need to remember they are in training to be a healthcare professional and any YouTube videos they want to share through the classroom setting should be professional in content as well.

Another great benefit of YouTube in the classroom, whether that classroom is in a school, or a hospital training program like a nurse residency, is the availability of information taken straight from guidelines of different nursing organizations.

Not every hospital can afford to purchase the complete AORN nurse training programs, for instance. With YouTube, a simple search using the terms, “AORN,” and “patient positioning” brought up video clips using AORN standards, students simulating positioning a patient on an OR table and narration by a well-spoken nursing instructor. There are videos like this across YouTube, covering everything from undergraduate nursing school basics like bed making and Foley catheter insertion to graduate level curriculum on how nurse practitioners go about starting their own practices.

Some of the Learning Can Even Be Downright Fun

Another source of great information found on YouTube are videos posted by other nursing students about nursing school. Everything from homemade music videos to tips on how to survive clinicals, being a man in nursing school, and study tips for classroom tests and the dreaded NCLEX can be found on YouTube.

Using YouTube can really engage students of every generation. It offers the ability to showcase real situations and how they are handled, whether on the floor, in the operating room or even in an intensive care unit. Unlike before YouTube, students can watch from almost anywhere on their iPods, or phones, or tablets and have the best information right at hand. If an instructor is particular about something like hand washing or sterile technique, break out that video camera and make your own video. YouTube even offers privacy settings that allow only people given the specific address to view the intended video.

Facing facts, YouTube is here to stay and it offers almost unlimited teaching and learning potential.

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