This study describes the use of handheld computers by nursing students during the clinical component of a four year Canadian Baccalaureate nursing-education program. This study examined the relationships that handheld computers had with the ability of third year nursing students to establish and maintain caring relationships. A qualitative case study research design was used. Data were collected including nursing student and patient interviews, documents, and artifacts such as the handheld devices and programs the students used. Findings indicated both caring relationships and technology are of value in nursing care. Students and patients perceived the use of handheld computers as beneficial to student learning in the clinical area. Students and patients also indicated handheld computers supported and had the potential to interfere with third year nursing students' ability to establish and maintain caring relationships. This study supports the use of handheld computers in clinical nursing education.
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