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How trustworthy is your information?

"Information literate people are able to access information about their health, their environment, their education and work, empowering them to make critical decisions about their lives, e.g. in taking more responsibility for their own health and education." UNESCO, 2009

"Nurses and nursing staff have up-to-date knowledge and skills, and use these with intelligence, insight and understanding in line with the needs of each individual in their care." Principles of Nursing Practice, Royal College of Nursing, 2010

Thirty years ago, the ability to read, write and do maths were considered vital skills for a successful career and home life. Nowadays, information literacy - the ability to work with information - has become just as important.

The quote above from the Principles of Nursing Practice is relevant not just to nurses, but to all health care and nursing staff. The quote outlines particularly the requirement for all health care staff to be equipped with the skills necessary to give patients the best possible care, and to ensure that their skills and knowledge are up-to-date. This implies a certain amount of information literacy which like any other skill, can be learned.

There is a vast amount of valuable nursing and health care information available from reliable resources, such as the RCN library, that can help you in your daily practice. But there is also a lot of misinformation on the Internet that cannot be verified. It is important to learn how to make the distinction in order to access the right information at the right time to support your practice. It is also important to learn how to ask the right questions, to know where to look, and learn how to use the information once you have it. This learning area will show you how to do so. For further support you may wish to contact the information professionals at Royal College of Nursing library and heritage services or at your local health library or information service.