Overview of the SmartNurse Methodology

The SmartNurse Methodology is a pedagogical framework, based on active learning to develop digital health competences during the professional growth of nursing students to improve selfcare in the individual, family, and community to deal with non-communicable diseases.

See a short video about the SmartNurse Methodology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiIXyBeV3NQ

To visually represent the SmartNurse Methodology an illustration of a tree was created, using the roots, branches, leaves and fruits as metaphors. The tree design highlights the digitalization and connections of the different key elements within the methodology; which are pedagogical principles, professional growth of nursing students, active learning methods, digital competences and improvement of self-care.

SmartNurse methodology illustration as a tree with main concepts


The ground describes the context and conditions affecting the methodology and it’s implementation. The context determines the needs, opportunities and restrictions there are to implement SmartNurse methodology and effect on how we put in practice our pedagogical principles and use the different methods.  The context contains organizational and societal culture and perception of changes and trials as well as the infrastructure, including the access to internet. The resources refer to both concrete equipment available but also to teacher’s skills, knowledge and time for learning new methods and tools. Here we have specifically considered context formed by the non-communicable diseases, social environment and digital learning ecosystem.

The growing number of the non-communicable diseases globally as well as in Latin-American societies is the reason and motivation for developing the SmartNurse methodology. New approaches are needed to the health care system and education so that the challenge of growing number of patients with chronic conditions can be well managed.

Social environment means economic, cultural and social context where SmartNurse Methodology is implemented. The physical surroundings and resources affect the pedagogical options of integrating digital capacity building. Thus, SmartNurse Methodology can look different in different societies. Culture and social context influences the use of digital and active learning methods, although the implementation of the methodology also shapes the organizational culture and social norms and roles of teacher and student or nurse and patient.

Digital learning ecosystem, refers to a globalization process that has forced society to use more information technologies, where formal and informal education is not exempt.  The use of digital technologies has helped society to have greater access to information. Equally, digital health is growing its significance in health care field also in Latin America. According to WHO, digital health means development and use of all kinds of digital technologies to improve health and healthcare services.  The current and future digitalization in a society determines the forms of applying SmartNurse Methodology and the necessity to integrate it into nursing education to respond to demands on nursing competencies.

These surrounding factors nourish and affect the root which is SmartNurse pedagogical principles. Learning paradigms of constructivism, connectivism, the competency-based approach and the socio-formative approach form the basis to the SmartNurse methodology.

There are four branches in the tree, which describe the means to reach the objectives, and which are raising and nourishing from the pedagogical principles. These branches are professional growth, curriculum development, active learning process and digital learning.

Professional growth of nursing students during their studies includes not only the formation of the necessary skills and knowledge for the profession, but also development of the professional identity and with it the value base, ethical understanding and professional behaviour. Holistic professional growth is enabled with pedagogical principles and active learning methods that promote interaction, reflection and responsibility. Professional growth goes beyond the undergraduate studies, but is a lifelong learning process, and thus applies equally to the nursing professors who develop their digital and pedagogical skills and paradigm of learning when utilizing the SmartNurse Methodology.

Curriculum development, refers to the changes or modifications in study plans, course implementation descriptions and academic programs in formal and informal ways by incorporating active learning methodologies, supported by digital tools and environments during the training of nursing professionals, to generate significant learning in them.

Active learning process is a key element of SmartNurse Methodology in both as a way of teaching and learning in nursing education, as well as means for the nursing students to use in patient guidance, health education and support of self-care. Active learning methods include for example problem based learning, case based collaborative learning, drama pedagogics, coaching and learning cafe, to name but a few.

Digital learning, refers to the use of digital technologies in the teaching-learning process. Digital learning is not automatically active learning, but the digital platforms and tools offer great assests for teacher to facilitate actve learning. It contains for example the use of applications and virtual platforms. Digital learning in nursing education has two great benefits, the development of digital competencies for learning but also competences and creativity to adapt use of technology into providing health education, use digital platforms and tools in health care and in self-care support.

The SmartNurse methodology involves the nursing teachers and students as well as the patients. In the image they are represented as the leaves of the tree have a close relationship with each other, where an active process takes place. The teacher is the facilitator of the student’s learning through digital tools and active learning; the student, once acquired the professional competences, including the digital skills, becomes the facilitator of the patient’s and his/her familiy’s learning with the aim of generating selfcare skills for improved health, particularly in non-communicable diseases. None of them is a passive beneficiary but each has a role of an active learner in using technology and growing their competences, and each one has something to teach and to give to the others.

The central fruits of Smartnurse Methodology are improved digital competences and self-care support.

Digital competences are the knowledge, skills, attitudes and strategies for the safe, efficient and relevant use of information technologies and the communication in teaching process and in health care. In somewhat different ways, the digital competences are relevant for all – student, teacher and the patient. Nursing teacher need to master Digital pedagogics to facilitate better learning outcomes, students need the competences to manage and develop the increasingly digitalizing healthcare field and the patient can use digital competences in utilizing eHealth services, benefiting from online peer-support and reliable information or using different self-care promoting assets or applications.

Other key objective of the methodology is the enhanced self-care support,  focusing on the benefits of the use of technologies that improve the patient’s self-care actions and therefore improve his health in a comprehensive manner.