Google Glass Gives Nursing Students New Perspective

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COLUMBIA - Nursing students can check medications, verify dosages and record patient interactions, all hands free, thanks to the introduction of wearable smart technology to their classroom.

The nursing students and faculty at the University of Missouri's Sinclair of Nursing School found ways to integrate Google Glass technology into their curriculum. The students and faculty at the simulation lab use the wearable device in several ways:

• Record mock patient and patient family member interactions to improve bedside manner
• Record and share skills videos
• Maintain a sterile field with hands free capability
• Utilize search technology with Internet browsing

Lea Wood runs the Essing Clinical Simulation Learning Center. She had the idea to bring Google Glass to the lab after the University of Missouri closed campus due to heavy snowfall. Wearing the Glass, Wood recorded the procedure from a first-person perspective and shared it with her students over YouTube.

"I didn't want them to lose valuable class time, but the feedback from them was phenomenal," Wood said. " They loved seeing it from the first-person perspective."

From there, Wood has continued to integrate Glass into her student's time in the simulation lab. As part of preparation for working with human patients, the nursing students train on dummies. The dummies speak, breathe and physically respond like human patients. There, the students wear Google Glass, record their interactions with each other and the mock patients. They can then play it back and watch how they interact and improve their bedside manner.

"It'll give the students a chance to see how they're perceived from a patient or a patient's family member's point of view," nursing student Brittany Powell said.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday Google opened sales of the eye wear after several months of only limited sales. The release came about a month after Google had a one-day sale on the product. Google stressed, however, the device remains in the "explorer" stage of development.

Dale Musser is the director of the Information Technology program in the Computer Science Department at the University of Missouri. He agreed that the technology is still being explored.

"We are the Wright Brothers stage of wearable computing," he said.

He cited the short battery life and clunky interface as problems he has with the wearable technology.

"Nobody is saying, yes this is it. This is, everybody wants this everybody should have this, it brings great value that hasn't happened yet," he said. "Particular tasks may align themselves very well with the capabilities and that's great, they should use them."

The nursing students think they've found tasks for just that.

The devices cost around $1,500 each, but despite the high sticker price Wood said more pairs would be beneficial to the program. She said as the technology develops, the students and nurses in the hospitals will find more uses for them.

"If they can spend more time with the patient and less time running to the nurses station to look something up in a book the better care they're going to provide,"  Wood said.

Wood said the lab has four pairs of Glass right now. She said in the future she hoped to have ten pairs, one for each dummy in the lab.