Introduction to Databases

Welcome to Access

A database is a tool for collecting and organizing information. For example, as a database, a contact list in your phone organizes data—names, addresses, and phone numbers—so you can access it by name in alphabetic order. Even a grocery list is a simple type of database.

A computerized database management system (DBMS), such as Access, enables you to easily collect large volumes of data organized into categories of related information. This type of database allows you to store, organize, and manage your data, no matter how complex it is, and then retrieve and present it in various formats and reports. Using a DBMS to organize data gives you the power to manipulate, view, and report the data in ways that other applications like spreadsheets and word processing documents cannot. As with any program, however, the first tasks are the most basic.

Key Concepts for Creating Tables and Fields

  • Tables – The most basic database object that stores data in categories
  • Fields – Each column in a table is called a field. For example, if a table is named “Patient List,” each record (row) contains information about a different patient and each field (column) contains a different type of information about a patient, such as last name or date of birth.
  • Primary keys – This is a column that uniquely identifies each row, such as Patient ID Number. For example, in the Patient List table, the primary key is the Patient ID.
  • Foreign keys – The foreign key is used to reference the data from the primary key to help avoid redundancy. Once a primary key is defined, you can use it in other tables to refer back to the table with the primary key.

Assignment

The new Phoenix Hospital is transitioning from paper charting to computer charting to improve patient safety and workflow for patients, doctors, and nurses. Phoenix Hospital needs 5 tables to house information for each of the following entities: 30 patients, 5 doctors, 5 nurses, 20 medications, and vital signs. Phoenix Hospital needs an electronic flowsheet that stores patients’ vital signs and medication administration records (MAR) that displays medications administered by a nurse to a patient.

To create the tables, follow these steps:

  1. Create a table for each entity (5 total).
  2. Consider fields needed for each table (e.g., Vital signs should be temperature, heart rate, respiration, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, etc.).
  3. Create primary keys for each table.
  4. Determine which foreign keys will need to be placed on each table (e.g., Vital signs will need a patient and nurse foreign keys.) and explain your rationale for the foreign keys.
  5. Format each field in a table accordingly (e.g., Names should have characters and heart rate should have integers.).

Submit the Access file showing your work.


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