Healthy World, Healthy Nation, Healthy You

Real People as Professors~ Turning the Tables in Educating Tomorrow’s Nurses

Tamara Kear, PhD, RN, CNS, CNN
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Villanova University College of Nursing


KearDr. Tamara Kear is a professor of nursing at Villanova University. Dr. Kear earned her BSN from Gwynedd-Mercy College, MSN from Thomas Jefferson University, and PhD from Villanova University. She has over 25 years of experience in nursing education in the academic and clinical settings. Her doctoral researched focused on transformative learning nursing education. During her doctoral studies she also completed an internship with the National League for Nursing.

Dr. Kear is currently a researcher using an on-line patient education and research platform called Patients Like Me. She is interested in patient empowerment and patient involvement in the educational, research, and clinical settings. Dr. Kear is a member of the American Nurses Association, the National League for Nursing, and the American Nephrology Nurses’ Association.


This show will address a current shift in nursing education that places the patient at the center of the healthcare and learning process for students. We will discuss that patient-centered care is bringing individuals with specific health conditions into the classroom and laboratory settings. We will also investigate the use of technology in mobile medical monitoring and the role patients are taking in leading this initiative in the homecare setting. Finally, we will look at an innovative company that is using social networking to connect patients with a shared medical condition for purposes of support, education, and research. There is no arguing that patients are being placed at the center of healthcare and as experts living with a specific health condition are the teachers for tomorrow’s nurses and healthcare providers

  • Nursing professors are bringing patients into the classroom to create innovative learning opportunities for students. At Villanova University we have long had patients speak on topics related to a specific disease process or healthcare concern. Today we are using patients in simulation scenarios in the laboratory. One such example is using patients with disabilities as standardized patients in the laboratory setting.
  • Patients are spending less time in the hospital and returning to the home and community setting while managing acute and chronic health conditions. There has been an explosion in the use of mobile medical apps in the home setting for monitoring blood sugar, blood pressure, dietary intake, cardiac rhythms, and may other health conditions. Such examples include iHealth and MedApps. Nursing students are also using mobile apps to research medical conditions, diagnostic studies, and medication information. In many cases, patients are using the medical mobile apps and are showing nurses how to use such devices to collect and transmit data. Nursing education programs are starting to incorporate the use and even development of mobile apps into the curriculum.
  • A new company called PatientsLikeMe® is placing patients at the center of research, information sharing, and education. This social media site connects patients with the same health condition. Patients can access health related information, locate research studies seeking enrollees, or participate in research right on the site. The company has an open research exchange philosophy that translates into the researchers sharing findings with the patients before publishing the data. The patients are the center of the education, social networking, and research processes. Dr Kear is working with them as a nurse researcher to develop applications that improve patient care.

3 Key Points:

  1. Nursing education is placing patients at the center of the educational process.
  2. Patients are using their life and illness experiences to teach nursing students.
  3. Patients and nursing students are using technology to educate, communicate, and conduct research.


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