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Older nurse lacking computer skills


Specializes in Transitional Care, Home Care. Has 2 years experience.

I have a problem. My mother who is 60 years of age has been a home care hospice nurse since the dawn of man. She is awesome at it. It is her passion and at this point in her life it is a huge part of her identity. Unfortunately about a year ago she suffered some health problems and is no longer able to do it because of physical limitations. A few months ago she was hired by one of the larger health care companies in the state as a triage nurse in their call center. Again she is dealing mostly with hospice cases which she likes but she is really struggling with the technology aspect of her new gig. She is putting in extra hours trying to learn but she is so worried that she is going to get canned because of her lack of computer skills. So I guess the point of my post is to see if any of you all have run into this issue and if there are any miracle classes or programs out there that will help teach her some skills. She is an awesome nurse and doesn't want to be put up on the shelf just yet! Please help!

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

Which particular skills/programs are giving her a problem? Need to narrow it down a bit!

Nrsasrus, ASN, RN

Specializes in Transitional Care, Home Care. Has 2 years experience.

They are using Epic, I guess.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

Oh. I am sorry. I don't use that one. Hopefully someone else can help.

Your mom sounds great.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

I recommend she talk to her supervisor to see if someone is available to tutor her. The rep might have someone, or there could be an online tutorial, or someone at work could spend some time with her. She probably needs 1:1 for a short time to understand how the computer is thinking. Once I get on the same page as the application I am good to go, but I sometimes have to struggle to get there!

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

A few years ago, when my organization started down the electronic path, we provided extra assistance to anyone who needed/requested it. Keep in mind that our 'support' functions (payroll, HR/Benefits, eLearning, etc) changed before most job processes. Our results surprised some folks. The only issue that showed up more for "older" staff was with screen resolution, especially if the user wears bi-focals.

As we moved job processes online, many people had issues due to stress -- "if I don't learn this, I'm gonna lose my job". But again, this was not associated with any particular age group. I would imagine that the threat of job loss is creating a lot of stress for her. Can you obtain (or create) some visual job aids for her? I would suggest creating diagrams that show where to click for each major job task. These can be reduced on a copier and attached to 3X5 or 5X8 cards and laminated. She could keep them in her pocket for a quick reference.

If the problem typing/keyboarding proficiency, there are many free online training programs or you could purchase one of the inexpensive programs - my students used to like "Mavis Beacon" Practice your typing skills with Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (I have no connection & do not receive any remuneration for this recommendation)

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

Glad HouTx made the comments about glasses. I wear bifocals, unless I am working at the computer. Then I wear readers that I chose to fit the distance between my nose and the screen. Not the same prescription as my glasses (the close up on bifocals is intended for shorter range). I call these my computer glasses. That way I have a better view of the whole screen without having to hold my head in some weird angle.

Your Mom needs to sign up at her local highschool or community center or community college where, they may have a class called something like beginning computing. This will help her with all of it. She should not wait. If she mentions she's taking this course it may help her keep her job. I suspect, like my parents its the whole drop down menu and folders deal that they can't get to understnading - eg navigation.

Nrsasrus, ASN, RN

Specializes in Transitional Care, Home Care. Has 2 years experience.

These are all excellent ideas. Thank you so much!

netglow- I suspect you are right about her having difficulty with navigation in general. I've ncouraged her to just "play around" on her computer and to practice clicking on things just to see where it leads her.

HouTx- I have also been telling her to talk to her supervisor to see what resources are available. I think she is afraid that if she admits she is having a hard time it will reflect badly upon her. I think that it would show initiative and awareness of her weaknesses but she of course will have to decide that.

I am going to pass these ideas on to her. Maybe I can even get her to start asking some questions here herself!

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

Yes she can do it. It just takes time.

Anyone can learn how.

I think of a couple of years ago when my mom and her sisters (ladies over 60) were showing each other their tricked-out cell phones with more apps than I knew existed. These ladies had no trouble using all the features. I pointed out that they had come a long way from when they were country girls who had no phones, electricity, or plumbing.

She was lucky that she was even hired without having computer skills. I was denied a nursing job specifically because I lack computer skills. They will not hire anyone at that nursing job unless they already have good computer skills. Luckily, I got a job elsewhere. However, it sounds like both of us should try to work on getting computer skills. I am going to check my local junior college and see if I can find a class. I am also going to check at my local employment office and see if they offer computer classes too.

Nrsasrus, ASN, RN

Specializes in Transitional Care, Home Care. Has 2 years experience.

Good luck with the classes. I guess in nursing there is always something more we can learn no matter how much we already know!


Specializes in ICU. Has 6 years experience.

Epic Hyperspace?

They have amazing tutorials - they take a few hours but are very thorough. We had to take them before we started clinicals because it is what the two major hospitals in this area use.

I would be surprised to hear that she didn't get this training at all -- like I said, they are very thorough and if you have a somewhat un-savvy tech person anyway, it will take more than one go round to understand it. She should ask to have those tutorials again. They really are great!

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

epic can seem cumbersome in the beginning. have her talk to your help desk and get her smart phrases inputted and that will speed things up considerably

loriangel14, RN

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

She should be getting support from her employer.There is no reason for them to expect her to function in the workplace without the proper instruction.This is their responsibility.Where I work new employees get at least 3 full days of computer training plus we can call the informatics nurse anytime we have questions.

Nrsasrus, ASN, RN

Specializes in Transitional Care, Home Care. Has 2 years experience.

AKreader- I think she did have this training but like you said she is a bit tech un-savvy so it didn't stick as well as it could have.

loriangel14- I completely agree with you and I suspect that they would give her support but she is so scared that if she admits she is having problems they will single her out as "old nurse" and get rid of her. I don't think that they will do this because obviously they value her experience enough to have hired her and invested in her initial training. I think it is sad that her experience has taught her that her years could work against her that way.

Thanks again everyone!

FlyingScot, RN

Specializes in Peds/Neo CCT,Flight, ER, Hem/Onc. Has 28 years experience.

Epic is a PITA and I say that as a Superuser! I find the biggest obstacle for older users who are not tech savvy is the fear that they are going to break something if they click wrong. Tell her that there is absolutely nothing she can do that will break the computer or cause a major meltdown of Hyperspace. Like I tell some of my friends there's nothing they can do to their kids that a good therapist can't fix and there's nothing she can do to Epic that a reboot can't take care of. Also, the tutorials are available by clicking on the Epic tab.

Does your mother have a computer at home for personal use? You should direct her to this site! I think just getting familiar with using a computer for leisure (knowing which buttons do what) would help.