Case Study: Briar Cliff University

Briar Cliff University, located in Sioux City, Iowa, is an institution with a rich Catholic heritage and a strong tradition of service.  The Mission of the Department of Nursing at Briar Cliff University is to promote health, healing, and hope of persons and the community and to advocate for social justice and healthy environments.

We spoke with Dr. Susan Beidler, Chair of the Department of Nursing, about the expansion of their online programs, the changes in student population, and how case-based real patient video is adding value in their curriculum.

Watch the interview video or read the full story below.

I’m here today with Dr. Susan Beidler, who is the department chair at Briar Cliff University department of nursing. Dr. Beidler, thank you so much for joining me today. We really appreciate your giving us a bit of your time to talk about your experiences with ReelDx.

Dr. Beidler:  I’m happy to be here.

Wonderful! Thank you. So, if you could, would you start by telling us a little bit about your educational background, and your journey into education, and how you landed at Briar Cliff University?

Dr. Beidler:  Absolutely! I started my career in a baccalaureate-nursing program, actually very similar to the university that I’m in at this point, a small liberal arts institution. From there, I decided I wanted to continue my education as a nurse practitioner. So early on, I attended the University of Pennsylvania and became a family nurse practitioner.

So, through my career I have both practiced and taught. I have taught at the undergraduate level, at the graduate level, in both masters and doctoral programs. I started teaching on the east coast, teaching in the nurse practitioner program at the University of Pennsylvania. And then, took another position at the Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.  From there, I went to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha Nebraska, and eventually ended back on the east coast. As life unfolds, I returned to the Midwest in the Fall of 2014, and I’ve been at Briar Cliff University since then.

Terrific! Could you tell us a little bit about your program at Briar Cliff University? I’d certainly love to hear from you also, what’s been your primary practice and research focus as an educator.

Dr. Beidler:  Absolutely. Well, at Briar Cliff we have all levels of nursing education. We have a traditional or pre-licensure baccalaureate program. We have the masters level programs for nurse practitioners and nurse educators. And we also have a DNP program. In addition, we have a degree completion program for RNs so that they can obtain their baccalaureate.

In terms of my practice and research, I have been as a family nurse practitioner and family care provider, most of my experience has been in nurse managed health centers working with marginalized or vulnerable populations, which is also my research focus.  Which is, developing models of care for vulnerable populations. And nurse managed health centers through history has been one of those models that have created services to match the needs of the populations that they are serving

Is there an underlying philosophy or conceptual framework that you are operating under at Briar Cliff?

Dr. Beidler:  The mission of our university is: we are a catholic Franciscan university, which is very much focused on service to others, respect for others, respect for the environment. So, that mission is really part of our mission within the department of nursing. The university and our department is very focused on student and faculty service. So, a lot of our… I guess, activities outside of the traditional educational activities are focused on doing things for the university, for the community and work globally.

You had mentioned there were a number of different tracks. Can you tell me a little bit about how those tracks are structured, how many students there are in each of those tracks, and is it all in person or is there an online component as well?

Dr. Beidler:  That’s a great question. We do,  …the only face-to-face or traditional setting is for our pre-licensure baccalaureate program for nurses. Our other programs are all online. The degree completion is our largest program. Those are the nurses who have, for the most part, completed their first two years in a community college and then return for their baccalaureate.

Our graduate programs are all online. The MSN programs are hybrid, because we do require students have a residence, a time on campus, where they are completing their physical assessment and diagnosis, and courses.  The doctoral program is an online program. That program actually started as a BSN to DNP and then we converted it to a post-masters DNP program. So all of those students are remote.

And roughly how many students do you have in each track?

Dr. Beidler:  Our smallest program is really our undergraduate BSN program. We have about twenty students in the cohort.  The largest program is the degree completion program. And then, our graduate program, we have about 40 to 50 students in that. For the NPs it is a three-year program. For the nurse educators it’s a two-year program. And then, our doctoral program, we currently have six students in our first cohort. They will be completing their degree the end of this year. And then, in the first of our post-masters DNP, we have another six students.

You must be very excited to have your first doctoral students.

Dr. Beidler:  We are extremely excited. This is a wonderful group of individuals, who are very passionate about nursing, and passionate about being leaders in health care.

Congratulations!  I’d love to now move on and talk a little bit about ReelDx. How did you first learn about us?

Dr. Beidler:  You know, I was reflecting on this…it was actually the summer of 2015. So, I had been here just a year. The director of our graduate nursing program forwarded an email he had received. So I don’t know if it was just kind of a cold call, or if he had heard about this product. But he sent the information to me and I followed up. At that point my main responsibility, in addition to teaching, was as the clinical coordinator for our NP and DNP programs, so I was always looking for opportunities to increase or enhance the quality of that program.  And from there, I was connected with David Spiro and we started our conversation, sharing information. I started to explore with him our organization, how we could implement this platform or this product.

Was there a particular problem you were trying to solve that you felt the real patient videos could help you address?

Dr. Beidler:  Yes.  And I think for me, the issue of online clinical courses. I wanted to be sure that our students in the program, you know a lot of what they learn is in their clinical rotations. In clinical rotations there is a lot of variability. So, I wanted to be sure that students were having exposure to certain types of patients. And this is one way that we could do that with a surety that there is…you know…that the quality is there. We are able to know that by the time they finish, or complete their education, they have had the ability to be exposed to certain types of patients and situations.

Well that’s great. Can you tell me a little it about how your educators are using it, either in the classroom or in asynchronous types of settings?

Dr. Beidler:  Right. We can use it in both, which is nice. We use it both at the undergraduate and the graduate level. In the undergraduate, because that is a face-to-face setting, the instructor is able to play one of the videos and use that to enhance a particular lecture. For the graduate programs, which are online, the faculty member is able to identify a case that helps to illustrate what they are basically presenting in the content for that particular week. And they are able to link it into our learning management system. So that, when a student goes to the course to read the content and whatever else has been provided for them, they can access the video at that time.

And so, your students have access to ReelDx outside of what they see in the lecture. Is that correct?

Dr. Beidler:  Absolutely.

So, I’d be interested in knowing, what was your path to adoption or integration of ReelDx into your curriculum? Was there a coordinated effort, or were individual educators responsible for identifying content and deciding how they wanted to use it?

Dr. Beidler:  Well because we are an early adopter here, we basically presented, in an in-service type of a format, this opportunity to use real diagnosis. And then faculty individually, select cases and embed them into their particular courses. I think that is something that we want to continue to develop. We want to look at our curriculum as a whole, and make sure that we’re optimizing the use of real diagnosis and not over duplicating… if someone is using it in one course you don’t want to necessarily keep reusing that same particular case.

So that’s some of the functionality that we’ve added, or enhanced this year, is so that you can create courses and select cases to be added to a particular course and also control what the student can see in those particular cases. I wonder if you have any thoughts about how that adds value to the use of the platform in your program?

Dr. Beidler:  Absolutely. I mean, the fact that’s one of the most exciting features is the fact that you can develop your courses within ReelDx and kind of organize the cases that you’re going to use that way, rather than having to do that outside of the program.

Thank you. I’d love to hear what kind of feedback that you’ve had, both from the educators who are using it, and also from the students. And has there been any anecdotal evidence of change in outcomes?

Dr. Beidler:  Well, I think from the educator perspective, of course they love that. Any way that you can engage the student in their learning, apart from “Here’s some information, go read it.” We all know that, particularly the upcoming generations are very visual, and they have short attentions spans, so they can look at a video and they get the point without having to read a description of what basically that case is about.  From the student perspective, we don’t have a formal mechanism at this point, to be able to assess the impact of ReelDx on student learning in our course evaluations. Of course, anecdotally, they love the videos. They are short, they are usually dynamically presented, and then the additional learning content that is provided is just really excellent. So that piece, between the student and the learner, everybody is very excited about this product.

Terrific! You know, I’d love to get your thoughts or your input… my hope is that this interview is going to be watched by other educators who are considering ReelDx for their program. What do you think they should know about ReelDx itself, about your experiences in utilizing it in your curriculum, or any other helpful tips you might have around making it successful?

Dr. Beidler:  Sure. What I’ve found in my experience working with ReelDx is the support that has been provided by both you, Julia, and David, early on. Very flexible, very interested in making sure that if we have a particular need, a particular case that we are interested in, you’re at the stage of development where you are being open to trying to develop that case. Which leads me… we actually have a doctorate in physical therapy program here who is also using ReelDx and, at some point, is looking at creating some specific cases for their program. So I think that the flexibility, the support, from the very beginning…I never feel like I have to jump through… if we have a problem, I reach out, I get an answer.  I like that. That’s very important to me, as we use anything, any new technology. It’s very easy to embed.  In our situation, our students receive a unique user access so they can access individually for the online use. And that’s very nice to have. We’ve been very pleased with our experience.

Do you have any advice for folks who are considering using it? You know, maybe some things you’ve learned along the way around decision making, selecting cases, or how to help future programs maybe avoid some obstacles that you had to overcome?

Dr. Beidler:  I think the best-case scenario, when adopting, is really mapping the cases to your curriculum.  The curriculums are established, you know what content is being delivered in which course, and then basically building the ReelDx cases to fit with your courses. And with this new feature within the platform, it’s very easy to do that. So we’re doing that now, after the fact, because that feature wasn’t available early on, but it is something that we’ll be working on as we move forward.

Well, Susan, I really can’t thank you enough for giving us your time today, sharing your thoughts and insights about ReelDx.  Also want to tell you how much we appreciate…as you mentioned you were a very early adopter of the ReelDx technology, your program has been very innovative in your uses and I’m looking forward continuing to work with you and your colleagues on other possible use-cases, and to benefit from your experience so that we might share it with other educators in the nursing space.  Just again, thank you for taking the time to share.

Dr. Beidler:  You’re very welcome.