University of Michigan Nurses Take Competencies Online


The 2,500 nurses who work in the University of Michigan Health System are required to take mandatory quizzes and competencies on a regular basis - some annually, some biannually. When these quizzes were administered on paper, the record keeping required was nothing short of voluminous.

But now, using Questionmark on the university's intranet, test takers can get immediate feedback and test scores without having to touch a piece of paper.

More than 50 competencies and mandatory study topics with follow-up quizzes cover everything from telephone courtesy and fire safety to antibiotic resistance precautions and advanced directives. Study materials are available online, making it convenient for the nurses to do the required reading in preparation for the quizzes. Clerical workers too are required to pass non-clinical tests, and everyone must achieve a score of 80 percent or higher in order to pass. Those who don't pass the first time can take the quiz as many times as they want in order to do so.

"I think the test takers are thrilled to be able to do it this way," remarks department of nursing web designer Cathy Muha. "They like getting the immediate feedback, which includes links to more information if they give a wrong answer. They don't have to track down a paper they read a long time ago, because it's all online and easy to get to. The online testing has motivated nurses to complete their mandatories on time. In the past, when it was harder to access the study materials, they had more difficulty finishing on time. They are so happy with this way of learning that they want to do a lot more testing online. It's certainly shown us how much potential there is for online continuing education for nurses!"

Nurse educators write the questions in Microsoft Word, and then Muha creates Question Mark quizzes from them. She has the option of configuring some quizzes so that participants can't print out the questions. Even when they aren't allowed to print questions, participants can print their scores once they've completed a test.

Sometimes the quizzes follow traditional classroom work, and sometimes they follow online learning. One learning module on standardized nursing language starts in Questionmark with an introduction, then provides links to online information, a chapter to read, and a three-question review quiz. Once the person has successfully answered the three questions, he or she can continue with the coursework. At the end of the module participants fill out an online evaluation form, also administered with Questionmark.

"Questionmark has totally changed what I do in my job," reports Muha. "It's saved an incredible amount of time for both the nurses and for the people teaching them." Muha says she expects the testing program to expand, and that it already includes a basic cardiac life support test with 50 questions provided by the American Heart Association. The test is the first step toward a BLS certification, and is follow by hands-on training. I feel that I have just touched on the capabilities Questionmark actually offers. I'm excited about doing different types of quizzes, such as ones with images and hotspot answering. The possibilities are endless."