Not too long ago, the public’s perception of a nurse was someone who cared for you when you were hospitalized, offered comfort at a time when you most needed it and carried out requests that doctors had made. Doctors were responsible for making clinical decisions, and a nurse was seen as a “handmaiden” who carried out the doctors' requests. Wards were run with military precision. Patients were washed, dressed and beds made (with perfect hospital corners!) by a set time each day. The nursing staff were in fear of the matron who made her rounds to ensure that all was done according to protocol and that you were perfectly turned out in your starched nursing uniform and cap.
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Recognizing that diagnostic errors are a problem for all practitioners, we saw the opportunity to use Isabel Diagnostic Decision Support System (DDSS) to improve the diagnostic skills of Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) students in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) programs at Columbia University School of Nursing. While the use of DDSS has been studied in health care providers, the use of decision support among APN students has not been studied.