Keeping nurses in the know

Many nurses practise the way they have always practised, the way they learned to practise, and they continue to do necessary healthcare procedures to the best of their ability and to the best of their knowledge.

But that’s not necessarily a good thing, according to a nurse educator who was an early adopter of the NurseOne portal.

“There is such a belief or value in nursing, in that we work with evidence-based information and apply that to our practice,” says Elizabeth Domm, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Saskatchewan in Regina. “NurseOne makes that information available to every nurse and it’s easy to navigate.”

In the past, nurses accessed relevant information about such things as medications and dangerous medication interactions from the big drug books – sometimes in the hospital ward or from the inserts in medication packages, she says.

“When I first looked at the portal, I thought, ‘Wow, this is fabulous,’ because many nurses working in nursing education spend a lot of time searching for information in online libraries, or through a university or a school of nursing Web site, to get access to online journals or electronic annuals.”

Now with NurseOne, nurses are provided with a bilingual portal that has been in development by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) since 2002 and contains health information for the Canadian public and for all nurses across Canada.

“I am one of those older nurses and I still work in practice. I’ve been a practising nurse for 33 years, working in administration and frontline duty practice, and I am now working in nursing education,” Domm says.

“You get all that access in one with the portal. And the great thing is you don’t have to be in nursing education, you don’t need a username and password – any nurse can get this information.”

There are all sorts of opportunities to have the information necessary to base your practice on, she says.

“NurseOne is a significant tool which will provide access to quality, up-to-date health information to support the 250,000-plus nurses working in urban, rural and remote parts of the country to deliver effective, evidence-based care,” says Marlene Smadu, CNA president.

“The portal supports nurses in caring for their patients, families and communities, managing their careers and connecting with colleagues and experts with the click of a mouse.”

In addition, NurseOne supports employers in recruiting and retaining nurses, she says.

“It was designed specifically with input from Canadian nurses and as a source of information for Canadian nurses,” Domm says. “My greatest excitement is that it’s available to any nurse who can access Web-based tools anywhere.”

There is also information on nursing career opportunities, nursing conferences and news updates on organizations like the International Council of Nurses, adds Domm.

“The nurse educator in me was opened up to a whole new world of nursing beyond Canada,” she says.

“Another benefit is the access to Health Canada sites, with all the information on drugs and health products. I am currently working on research around medication errors with nurses.”

Many nurses administer medications, but may not have the proper information about those medications, especially the new ones, Domm says.

“Health Canada offers drug and health product information and it can tell nurses about interaction and medication recalls, as well as consumer product safety information,” she says.

“The nurse can translate that into education for their patients and know that if a patient is receiving one kind of medication, they shouldn’t be receiving another kind of medication because they will have adverse reactions.”

Prior to the portal, nurses had to fill out pages of forms and send them to a local Health Canada office and it was all paper-based, says Domm. Sometimes nurses just didn’t do it because there was too much else to do.

“As soon as you get anything up on the Web, you can do all sorts of things. And this allows nurses to maintain their desired high level of competence in their profession.”

Health Canada last month announced an additional investment of $8.1 million for the NurseOne portal. Health Canada had previously contributed $3.98 million to CNA to develop the portal, which was introduced at CNA’s biennial convention in Saskatoon five months ago.

Brian Eaton is editor of and can be reached at

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