Nova Scotia Health and Dalhousie University partner to provide enhanced learning experience for students

Mariam Ahmed, Joke Iromini and Kriti Angrish are students from Dalhousie University’s Master in Health Informatics program who completed a three-month internship with Nova Scotia Health.

Students from Dalhousie University’s two-year Master in Health Informatics program are making a big impact at Nova Scotia Health. 

Through a partnership between Nova Scotia Health and Dalhousie University, students have the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom in a practical and positive way during a three-month internship with Nova Scotia Health. 

A growing profession and area of study, informatics utilizes health information and technology to enable patients to receive the best treatment and outcomes possible; informatics is a key element in the delivery of patient-centred care. 

“Given the present and long-term need for digital transformation, we’re evolving the former Master of Health Informatics into a new Master of Digital Innovation program, and we look forward to see how our students continue to develop and design solutions that will directly influence and improve all aspects of health care,” said Doug Gallant, director, Dalhousie SITE Co-op.

Nova Scotia Health is introducing 6,254 FK Agilia® volumetric and syringe pumps to 38 health care facilities across the province to replace end-of-life equipment. As of mid-March, 5,637 smart pumps have already been activated in 34 facilities.

A direct investment in patient safety, the smart infusion pumps are expected to reduce the incidence of medication errors through Wi-Fi enabled pumps that utilize comprehensive drug libraries to increase the accuracy of infusion therapy. The completion of the smart pump implementation project will distinguish Nova Scotia as a leader in implementing smart pumps to this scale in Canada. 

As part of their role with Nova Scotia Health, the Health Informatics students, Mariam Ahmed, Joke Iromini and Kriti Angrish are supporting health care workers (e.g. registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, physicians, anesthesiologists, emergency health services paramedics and technologists, etc.) to adopt the new smart pump technology. 

“The interns have been an incredibly valuable part of our team by providing training, in-person support and evaluation (e.g. surveys) throughout the project,” said Dr. Susan Johnson, Smart Pump implementation lead.

Training includes pump functionality and use, and education focusing on practice impacts of smart pump use (e.g. use of a drug library in conjunction with Dose Error Reduction Software) and practice changes due to practice standardization efforts to better align with infusion therapy standards. 

“It has been exciting to be part of a huge change within a provincial organization,” shared Mariam. 

Part of the support that the interns provide to health care teams is being available on the days when the end-of-life IV equipment is replaced with the new smart pumps. The team delivers 24-hour support for the first two-to-three days that the new pumps are in place. This support transitions to 16-hour support until health staff are comfortable with the new technology.

Already, 4,372 health care workers have been trained to operate the new technology. By the end of the project, which is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2021, it is anticipated that approximately 8,500 health care team members will have received training on the new devices. 

“We’ve been incredibly inspired by the work from our Health Informatics internship. Students like Mariam, Joke and Kriti have been helping change the practice and delivery of health care thanks to their understanding of technology along with their strong leadership skills,’ said Gallant.

When asked what they have enjoyed most about their experience at Nova Scotia Health, Joke (pronounced Joke–ay) shared, “Having been part of different aspects of the smart pump project such as training, support during go-live and evaluation has been the perfect opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge from my health informatics program. This experience has improved my interpersonal skills as we have had to work with many different people and groups as part of this project, including biomed, nurses, and clinical nurse educators. It has been an amazing experience.” 

For Kriti, “I didn’t know how the health care system in Canada works and it has been wonderful to see how encouraging everyone is to one another. I have appreciated the team work that I have learned. Everyone is very interlinked and interdependent and team work is required for success.” 

Following their internship at the end of March, the students will graduate in the spring with enhanced experience around their chosen area of study; enriched confidence from the knowledge of their contribution to Nova Scotia Health, health care teams and patients to carry with them as they journey forward in their careers.