Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic

SNapp: transforming nursing education by minimizing paperwork

How does a nursing instructor solve the problem of too much paperwork? Build an app!

Shelly Luhning is a part of the Saskatchewan Polytechnic faculty at the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (SCBScN) program. The SCBScN program is a collaborative program between Sask Polytech and the University of Regina. With approximately 140 faculty and 1,200 students a year, there was a lot of paperwork required for the instructors to regularly evaluate the students.

“When we’re teaching in a clinical setting in hospitals, we usually have approximately eight students we are evaluating for skills and course competencies. It used to be a lot of papers, checklists, and notes. At the end of the day, we went home, updated paper copies translated it to electronic documents and emailed updates to the students. I felt that there had to be a better way,” shares Luhning.

When there was a program change and it became mandatory for students to utilize their phones for research, Luhning proposed a solution - create a mobile app with Sask Polytech’s Information Technology Services department that allowed instructors to give immediate feedback. The SCBScN program leadership reviewed her proposal and permitted Luhning access to test the Saskatchewan Nursing Application (SNapp) with nursing students.

Students and instructors can sign into the app on their desktop, phone or tablet and see the expected skills and competencies for the courses they are taking, such as putting in an IV, giving a client report or doing a dressing change. Throughout the class, students and instructors can add comments and suggestions for improvement. The app tracks the students' progress throughout the four-year program, provides valuable feedback and shares instructors’ evaluations.

“Studies show that feedback given within twenty-four hours is the most effective,” shares Luhning. Students are also directed to self-reflect and self-evaluate to improve their practice and outcomes. “It makes our students better nurses. By reflecting and evaluating their own practice, they have the insight to improve. It will assist them to provide safe competent care to their patients. Self-evaluation is a skill that we as RNs do in our nursing career to meet our licensing requirements, so it’s great that they are learning and improving this skill as a student.”

The instructors are also seeing benefits. “SNapp is really keeping us more organized and making our faculty accountable for giving quality, timely feedback. We are better organized. Also, it is important to be innovative and keep up with technology in our profession,” shares Luhning.

The group hopes to white label the app and share it with other educational institutions. The technology can be used in any classroom that has a practical training component that requires immediate feedback for the students.

“SNapp puts us on the map for nursing. It shows that we are innovative and have a faculty that is willing to try new things and meet our students where they are at. I am proud of our faculty and students for working hard to embrace this change,” smiles Luhning.

​For more information on the SCBScN program visit

This article was originally published on the Innovation Saskatchewan blog.

Published October 2019.