Public Health Nursing
Section Newsletter
Fall 2008

Message from the Chair

                                                                                     

Transitions

Transitions are a natural and important part of life. They bring forth a range of emotions as we anticipate and move through them. It is with a combination of sadness and joy that I prepare for my transition to Immediate Past Chair of the Section and write my last message as Chair. With a short time before the Annual Meeting in San Diego, I feel sadness. This has been such a wonderful growth opportunity for me: meeting so many public health nurses—in person, on conference calls and via email, representing the Section in national meetings and working closely with the talented leadership of the Section, and the Quad Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations. I feel joy because we have a committed group of leaders ready to continue the work of the Section, but with new vision and new energy. Passing the baton is such a hopeful activity!

 

We are fortunate indeed to have Beth Lamanna from UNC, Chapel Hill ready in the wings to spring into action. As incoming Chair, I know that Beth will energize us all and will collaborate with a great new team: Judy Gibson, our incoming Secretary and the newly elected officers of the Section:

 

Chair-Elect: Linda Olsen Keller, DNP, APRN, BC, FAAN

 

Secretary-Elect: Donna Westawski, MSN, RN

 

Section Councilors:

Diane Downing, PhD, RN,

L. Louise Ivanov, RN, DNS, MSN, BSN

 

Governing Councilors:

Derryl Block, PhD, RN

Rita Gallagher, PhD, RN

Nonceba Lubanga, MPH, BA, RN

Cathy Taylor, DrPH, MSN, RN

 

Congratulations to all! I also wish to publicly thank all of the Public Health Nursing Section members who ran for office. We had a greatly talented group of candidates, all of whom were willing to give generously of their time. We can be proud of the fact that our elections are consistently competitive with excellent choices for each position.

 

Thanks to all who have given of their time to advance public health nursing: our Section Councilors, Governing Councilors, officers, committee chairs/members and those who deployed to APHA committees. The Section is better for having so many diverse viewpoints, energies and advocates for public health nursing.

 

Reflections on the upcoming Annual Meeting

 

As I think about our time in San Diego this October, the theme Public Health Without Borders is a particularly timely one. From the nursing shortage to immigration to emerging infections, our world gets smaller and smaller with each passing day. How should public health nursing embrace the concept of global health issues here at home? Whether we are discussing the ethical concerns of enhancing our workforce by depleting that of another community or the need to provide service to all who are in this country, the challenges of a small world affect the daily lives of public health nurses in the U.S.  The opportunity to share ideas--whether in agreement or not--is vital to the life of the specialty and critical to the advancement of the public’s health.

 

I recently spent some time with my Population Health undergraduate students at Georgetown watching “Unnatural Causes”. This engaging and challenging exploration of social determinants of health obviously had an impact on the students who represent a variety of schools and majors on campus. When the segment entitled “In Sickness and Wealth” was finished, you could hear a pin drop. Not a smile was seen around the conference table. The reaction of the students was consistent. “Why don’t we hear more about this?” “How can the discussions of health in the media not include this information?” Lastly, “The data are so powerful.” We discussed the need--at this political 11th hour—for both parties to deal with these issues, in a way that includes, but is not limited to health care delivery. What must the public health system, not just the public sector, in every community do to improve health?

 

Today, as I consider the topic, Public Health Without Borders, I am also thinking about the public health system in your community, in my community. What can public health nurses do to connect with all of the parts of the public health system? Rather than think about the boundaries that separate one social institution from another, how do we engage the media, business, education, safety net organizations, health care organizations, and our faith-based partners to come together to address health threats and improve the health of the public? How do we cross the borders that exist in our communities and serve as barriers to assuring healthy people in healthy communities?

 

During this past year, I have been regularly reminded that there are so many in our profession of nursing who don’t know about public health nursing. Most think that they understand what we are about, but conversation generally proves them wrong. Perhaps, we do not spend enough time connecting with others, finding common ground and working together. Let’s use the opportunity of our upcoming annual meeting to think about better ways to connect with professional colleagues, to advocate for our communities and to use our strengths to advance the health of all.

 

It has been an honor to work with each and every one of you this past year. I encourage you to use your time and talents to work with the Section in the coming year. Participate in our conference calls; write an article for the newsletter; join a committee; run for office and, if you are at the annual meeting, attend our business and scientific sessions. We are nothing without you and your ideas. Bring it!

 

Highlights at the Annual Meeting

 

Quad Council Learning Institute, Sunday 10/26/08, 5 – 6:30 PM. **Note: due to a systems issue during online registration, the Quad Council Event was not listed in the program. There is PLENTY of room in the session. We look forward to your participation.

 

PHN Section Business Meetings: Sunday, 8-9:30 AM and 10-11:30 AM; Monday, 6:30-8 AM; Tuesday, 6:30 – 8 AM; Wednesday, 6:30 – 8 AM. Open to all.

 

PHN Section Student Awards Reception and Town Hall Session: Monday, 6:30 – 8 PM (light refreshments)

 

PHN Section Awards Luncheon: Tuesday, 12:30 – 2 PM

 

See you in San Diego!

Jeanne

 

San Diego Annual Meeting Summary

San Diego Opens Its Doors to Public Health Nurses from Around the World

 

October 25-29, 2008 will be an exciting time for Public Health Nurses (PHN) attending the American Public Health Association's 136th Annual Meeting. Nurses along with colleagues from the United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and various other countries are registered to attend, and present research papers on topics ranging from immigration issues, social justice, multi-resistant TB, obesity, global warming and roaming Bed Bugs. We give a warm welcome to our international colleagues!

 

Your section’s program planners and local arrangement committee have been working diligently since last year’s Annual Meeting on the venue. The theme is “Nursing without Borders…where Public Health is, that’s where you will find public health nurses”. We have collaborated with other professional disciplines to provide the most cutting edge information we could find, e.g., Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s recently released survey on obesity in school-age children in Texas; Alternative medical modalities such as Therapeutic Touch and Thai Chi; the Environmental Committee’s work on global warming; the new researcher’s roundtable discussion on community-based participatory research; and Dr. Kathleen Moser’s work in USAID funded Border clinics for multi-resistant TB patients. The preliminary program can be found at the Annual Meeting Schedule of Events. Thank you to all of the abstract reviewers who assisted in the “blind review” for accepted abstracts related to the “call for abstracts.” Our sessions are brimming with exciting research and information. Sessions such as innovative technology-based approaches to nursing education; emergency preparedness; teaching cultural competency in the field (with experts who actually take students into Mexico for cultural immersion); immigration health; and the public health workforce, facing a critical point in time are just some of the sessions being offered this year.

 

If this is your first time attending our APHA meeting, “welcome.” APHA is an international organization that represents and serves professionals and students in public health and related disciplines.  Although APHA appears to consist of countless, overwhelming presentations, each meeting actually consists of two concurrent meetings: the scientific program and the political, business activities. You are invited to sample each venue. APHA offers a session on Sunday afternoon devoted to orienting new members to APHA’s annual meeting.

 

You may feel “overwhelmed” with the myriad of sessions available and inevitably, the most intriguing sessions for you will naturally be assigned to the same time slot. The Local Arrangement committee has prepared a “quick guide” for you (available at the PHN booth in the Expo Center) which depicts the PHN sessions. While you are at the PHN Booth, sign up to get involved in the section’s activities. There is a place for you to showcase your talents and abilities in volunteering to be on a committee, review abstracts for next year’s conference or even to help write a resolution or policy paper.

 

Organization of planned activities is the essential key to survival during the meeting. You’ll inevitably want to be in several places at the same time during most of the time you are attending the meeting! The final program can be picked up at registration and it pays to register early (to avoid the long lines). The program book consists of a daily listing of activities, maps, and is indexed by author, subject, and the session’s sponsoring section. All of the sessions are open to you, not just PHN. Use this as a guide for your meeting agenda. Also be sure to allow plenty of time to enjoy the APHA Expo/Career Mart. Bring a sturdy tote bag for materials and goodies offered. The University row helps you become acquainted with what different universities offer and the Pub Mart offers publisher exhibits. That empty suitcase will come in handy after a couple of Expo visits. I usually design a simple day-by-day computer calendar with plenty of room to write in the various sessions for each time slot, where the session is located and all of the social hour functions I might want to visit, then after glancing at the PHN “quick guide” and the official APHA program book, I am able to determine which sessions I should attend.

 

Section Meetings and Social Hours

 

The PHN Section Meetings are arranged for Saturday (9-5), Sunday (8-11:30 am) and every morning from 6:30-8:00am. Local Arrangements Committee tries to have coffee, tea and goodies to ease the “pain” of rising so early for business affairs. Please feel free to join and to add your comments to the discussions.

 

Social Hours are all free (unless restricted as noted in the program book) and are a chance to “network” with colleagues. Enjoy this opportunity to make new friends, share ideas, and form collaborations. When exchanging business cards (bring plenty), make sure you write on the back the reason for the exchange because when you return home, you may forget why you have “Laura Sue’s” card! Track your contacts—note the outcomes of your contacts and referrals. These are contacts for future collaborations or even a change in positions. Good Luck!

 

The PHN annual award luncheon is a time to network and honor the leaders of the profession. Seats are available at the back of the room for those who do not buy luncheon tickets. Tickets are on sale at the events counter when registering for the meeting.

 

Plan also to attend the Quad Council meeting on Sunday evening (see Learning Institutes for time and place) and the PHN Town Hall meeting led by the Section Chair, Jeanne Matthews on Monday from 6:30-8:30 pm. This session will end in a social hour and will honor the student poster contest winners.

 

Political Activism

 

Plan to participate in the public policy hearings held Monday afternoon (time and place also announced at the PHN business meetings) during which time final comments on resolutions and position papers are considered. You will be sharing this experience with your other public health colleagues to develop national policy direction.

 

The Governing Council meeting on Sunday afternoon at the beginning of the Annual Meeting is the time when candidates for APHA office present their perspectives and when APHA governance issues are discussed. Governing Council meetings all day Wednesday will have a lively debate on the resolutions presented for this annual meeting. Several chairs at the back of the room are for non-voting individuals who may sit quietly and respectfully to observe the governing council in action.

 

Sign up for the APHA “action alerts” sent by your own PH affiliate or the national APHA staff members by clicking here. These usually are alerts to important bills coming up before the legislators, or in support of APHA resolutions and policies and require you to send a letter to the legislators or even to write a “news opt” piece to your local newspaper.

 

Poster Sessions

 

Posters session abstracts are peer reviewed before being allowed to be presented. These sessions are usually in the back of the Expo Center (Sunday and Monday) and this is the time to talk one-on-one with the authors and to enter into a dialogue about the research and findings. Several of the posters will be presented by students who are vying for the student poster contest award, being given at the Town Hall meeting.

 

Continuing Education Contact Hours

 

APHA is an ANA/ANCC accredited provider to provide Continuing Education Contact Hours. To receive contact hour credits, you must pay a fee, attend the full session, and provide an evaluation. The evaluation also helps the PHN section develop programs that are important to the target audience, you the PHN. No credit is given for poster, business meetings or socials and only a few roundtable discussions. You cannot receive credit for sessions that occur during the same dates/times. All discipline listings/contact hours are subject to change. Please check the final program on-site or the CE booth in San Diego. Click here for general information about Continuing Education at the Annual Meeting.

 

So…remember to:

·        Pack good walking shoes and workout clothes (the Thai Chi session requests that you bring a towel and workout clothes and is limited to only 75 people).

·        Check out the hotel room amenities such as a hair dryer, iron, etc. to minimize excess baggage.

·        Take an extra suitcase for all of the exhibitor “freebies”.

·        Give us feedback on how we’re doing to meet your interests and professional growth opportunities in the field of public health.

 

We are looking forward to meeting you and to have you join us this year in San Diego for our annual APHA/PHN meeting!

 

Colleen C. Hughes, RN, PhD

 

Put On Your Shoes and Walk

The Physical Activity Special Primary Interest Group (SPIG) invites you to put on your exercise shoes and join your fellow public health colleagues at the 1st Annual 5K Fun Run/Walk at the 2008 APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego! The 5K Fun Run/Walk will start at 6:30am on Tues. Oct. 28. Meet in the lobby of the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina near the Concierge Desk. The group will walk together down to the waterfront. The 5K Walk/Run will follow along San Diego Harbor. Maps will also be available at the start. This event is sponsored by the APHA Physical Activity SPIG (formal recognition pending).  Please contact Genevieve Dunton (gdunton@gmail.com) with any questions. The APHA Physical Activity SPIG will also be hosting an evening reception on Mon. Oct. 27 from 6-8pm in the Convention Center room 11A. Come hear more about the new Physical Activity SPIG and how you can get involved.    

Public Health Nursing Video Stories Up and Running

Many of you volunteered to tell your Public Health Nursing story and be video-taped at last year’s annual meeting.  Several of these videos are now posted on YouTube!   The purpose of this project is to show the many faces of Public Health Nurses as well as showcase our work. Additional videos will be uploaded every week.  To access the link go to www.youtube.com/user/rlourie1  or go to the PHN Section website by clicking here.  These videos are also posted on Facebook.  Anyone can join Facebook: go to www.facebook.com, join and then click on groups, search “Public Health Nursing Video Group” and then you can post your own videos and view others.

Improvements in sound are forthcoming in the next round.  If you would like to be video taped in San Diego, contact Rita Lourie at rlourie1@aol.com, or call Rita at (610) 348-9695 (mobile).

Reflections - The Beverly Flynn Legacy Leadership Award

A Recipient’s Perspective

 

In 2007, I was one of the grateful recipients of the Beverly Flynn Legacy Leadership Award. This award provided me with an opportunity to walk side by side with a public health nurse mentor, participate in numerous PHN section activities at the APHA annual meeting, and listen to a follow-up teleconferences. The APHA PHN Section created a framework that helped ground public health nursing practice issues within the broader context of the USA. Most of all, I liked the follow-up conference call because it touched on a neglected area of public health nursing practice, prison/correctional health services. My practice and research interests emanate from adolescent sexual and reproductive health and I believe that public health nurses must create practice bridges between different population groups and their health needs.

 

As described by Patricia Benner, we cannot exist without a context since our circle of interpreting practice experience comes from our background pre-understandings and social practices. Questions and views regarding the role of public health nurses lean towards a social health practice bias. As a Zimbabwean/US trained public health nurse, my view of public health nursing is derived from and grounded in primary health care related perspectives. I, therefore, believe in drawing from varied perceptions of the field, and our ingenious work as public health practitioners. In the PHN Section conference calls, meetings and town hall meetings, I felt a sense of belonging and togetherness. I gained an educative insight and social knowledge of embracing education, research, practice, and policy issues from the distinctive voices sharing individual practice experiences. 

 

I feel the Beverly Flynn Legacy Leadership Award attempts to embrace recipients across cultures and ethnic boundaries. The APHA PHN Section experience represented practice issues and strides taken by public health nurses to address them, not only in policy but also in relationship to academia and research. I liked the way the meetings quizzed APHA members running for different office positions. This demonstrated how public health nurses look for commonalities and/or connections and allies with other public health engaged leaders. As a result, the award is especially valuable across the different areas of public health nursing and relevant to my long-term career goal in international public health nursing leadership.

 

Submitted by Sithokozile Maposa

 


Experiences and Lasting Memories

While hearing someone speak of goals and objectives of the American Public Health Association can be informative, personally experiencing and exploring what this organization entails speaks volumes. It was a privilege to be selected for the Public Health Nursing Section’s Beverly Flynn Legacy Leadership mentee program. The program gave me the opportunity to attend the 2007 annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Washington D.C.  Dr. Betty Bekemeier, my mentor coached me before and through the meeting conference, guiding me in understanding the different sessions and interest groups within the association. Being a first-time attendee to the meeting can be overwhelming – the conference program, session times and locations – however, my mentor guided me and explained the variety of scheduled events, activities, sessions and interest groups.

 

Issues regarding Public Health Nursing have always been of particular interest to me and I took great advantage of the different section meetings, scientific groups and other social events organized by the Public Health Nursing Section during the meeting. I learned about the different activities the Public Health Nursing Section is engaged in. This motivated and encouraged me even more in contributing to my local community as a public health nurse. The poster sessions were also another avenue I used to learn up-to-date and hot-off-the-press information on different issues that directly or indirectly affect Public Health Nursing.

 

Since the last meeting in November 2007, I have been active, engaged and involved in community activities sponsored by my local health department as a public health nurse. My mentor Dr. Bekemeier has been supportive of my ideas and efforts even after the annual meeting, and continues to encourage me to rise up to challenges as I encounter them in my professional career. I have also successfully encouraged my peers to join and actively participate in events sponsored by the American Public Health Association.

 

Although the 2007 meeting is over, those who wished they could have attended have the opportunity to do so at APHA’s annual meeting in San Diego. I recommend all public health nurses, particularly nursing students in health sciences degree programs to attend and participate during the association’s annual meetings. APHA’s annual meeting presents the opportunity to know the who, what, where, when, why, and how health care providers, particularly public health nurses can contribute to our society in creating a positive and healthy change. Finally, the annual meeting affords the rare opportunity to learn, interact, network and share ideas with the great minds behind the groundbreaking research that greatly and positively contributes to shaping the healthcare systems of the different counties or regions in which they represent or practice. Thank you!

 

Submitted by C. Florence Nwoga, RN, BSN

From the Field

Challenges in Public Health Nursing

Public Health Nursing seems to have finally come into its own, but the irony is that it is at a time when we are facing what could be the elimination of our practice.  While Public Health Nurses (PHNs) face the challenges of all nurses, we also deal with the challenges of chronic under-funding that has hindered Public Health efforts for years at the same time we are faced with our own identity crisis.

Public health has been under-funded for years, exacerbating the problems PHNs face.  As Local Health Jurisdictions struggle with funding shortages and reimbursement rates fail to keep up with costs, PHNs struggle under caseloads that are often unmanageable in numbers and/or acuity.  The crisis in access to mental health resources, affordable housing, medical access, etc., means that there are fewer resources for clients who are in desperate need.  This places additional strain upon the nurse trying to find these needed resources for vulnerable populations and trying to “make ok” that, which is not. 

The nursing shortage has unquestionably had an adverse impact on Public Health.  Public Health agencies are unable to compete with sign on bonuses offered by hospitals, and historically wages for PHNs have been lower than the market despite the BSN entry level educational requirement for PHNs in many public health agencies.  This cripples the recruitment and retention abilities of Public Health.  At the same time, nursing positions and programs are frequently the first cut in budget shortfalls.  Nurses are a significant part of most agency budgets and, while there is little doubt that the multiplicity of abilities of nurses is more cost effective, when there are few dollars available the cuts happen where the costs are greater. 

While there are similarities in the services provided by different local health jurisdictions, variations in PHN practice can be significant.  Different Public Health Agencies may provide services to a variety of populations including Maternal Child, Immunizations, Senior Health, Pediatric Health, Jails, WIC Clinics, STDs, Health Education Programs, etc.  However, not all agencies provide the same or similar services even within the same state.  To further complicate it we have an identity crisis occurring.

Previously, PHNs were for all practical purposes, the only community based nurses.  Interchangeable the terms Public Health Nurse and Community Health Nurse (CHN) were used.  In the 1980s, however, there was a greater distinction made between PHN and CHN services and focus, and home health agencies came into their own. The movement of nursing services into the home caused increasing confusion over the role and identity of PHNs versus CHNs.

So, how are we different?  CHNs are primarily client and intervention based, and an identification of location not practice.  In most cases, PHNs work for a Public Health Agency and all are prevention and population focused ... even when working with individuals.   PHNs utilize knowledge from the health and social sciences to provide services through targeted interventions, programs and advocacy.  We must be competent in basic epidemiology and prepared to provide a role in emergency clinic management, and public health emergencies.  PHNs have a long and proud heritage of service and feel strongly that we are deserving of recognition of our practice, both in type and locations.

Some states recognize Public Health Nursing as an essential service, and while an important step, there needs to be more including mandating Public Health Nurses at a per capita ratio.  There needs to be recognition of the specialty and the certification that demonstrates our expertise.  Public Health Nurses have the ability to help make a difference in the lives of the clients and communities we serve.  Research is needed to demonstrate this difference … a challenge in a field where multidisciplinary and community partnerships solve public health problems together.  PHNs are in a specialized field and are deserving of all that that a specialty brings: recognition and respect of the unique skill sets we bring to the table.

Submitted by Peggy Slider


A Director's Point of View

Public Health Nursing is finally being recognized for the significant impact it can have on vulnerable populations when interventions based on best practices are applied.  At the same time kudos are being given for these interventions and research is confirming improved outcomes for the populations being served, public health agencies are targeting budget cuts at programs that are primarily staffed by public health nurses.  These reductions result in a real drain of the public health nursing workforce, and will impact the ability of public health agencies to respond to large communicable disease outbreaks as well as emergency events.
 
Funding, unfortunately, is only one of the multiple challenges faced by public health nurses today.  Other challenges include: high caseloads primarily made up of high acuity clients with multiple issues and needs, and with limited community resources to serve them; limitations in practice due to categorical funding that results in less job satisfaction; lower and non-competitive pay scales than hospital-based or community-based nurses; job insecurity due to lack of stable public health funding; aging of the public health nursing workforce; inability to recruit young graduates into the field; prolonged governmental agency hiring processes; the lack of data that measures the impact of public health nursing interventions; and a lack of standardization of public health nursing practice across agencies. The elimination of key public health nursing positions, such as the Director of Public Health Nursing at local and state levels, limits the ability to set public health nursing policy and advocate for public health nursing with administrators and policy makers. Finally, a lack of understanding of the public health nursing role, not only by the public, but by other public health professionals.
 
The perfect storm is brewing for public health nursing.  If these challenges are not addressed and resolved public health nursing will be significantly impacted and in some public health agencies may cease to exist.  Public Health Nursing has been a cornerstone of public health for well over 100 years and is critical to the infrastructure of any public health agency.  In some states, public health nursing has been recognized as an essential public health service, but this is not enough.  Public health nursing needs to be a mandated public health service and public health nursing to populations ratios need to be incorporated into any public health standard and into the national public health accreditation process.  Public health nursing leadership positions must be reinstated - we must have a voice at the local, state, and national levels.  Public health nursing must embrace 21st century technology and begin to utilize standardized information systems that will allo9w us to not only collect critical information on the services we provide, but measure the impact of these services across similar populations.
 
Public health nurses make a difference in the lives of vulnerable populations and the communities we serve.  Public health nursing service are as essential to the health of the public as clean air or water and without these services we will see increases in child abuse and neglect, low birth weight babies, lack of or inadequate prenatal care, and lower childhood immunization rates to name but a few.  We cannot sit idly by and watch the significant gains and achievements of public health nursing reversed.  We must speak out on behalf of the profession as well as advocate for the programs that are so critical to the populations served by these programs.  If public health nurses do not provide these services then who will?
 
Submitted by Elaine Conley, RN BSN MPH

Disaster Preparedness Training Critical for Public Health Nurses

In a rapidly changing world facing natural and man-made disasters as well as threats of terrorism and pandemics, nurses will be needed to serve in the event of a disaster. Since nurses make up the largest portion of the health care workforce in the country, it is critical that nurses in all specialty areas are trained in disaster nursing.  The state of our preparedness will affect whether nurses will be able to save lives during a mass casualty event.

                 

The American Association of Critical Care Nurses affirmed their commitment to mass casualty and bioterrorism preparedness in a statement which said that the nation’s capacity to respond to a threat depends in part by the ability of health care professionals to rapidly and effectively detect, manage and communicate during an event resulting in mass casualties (AACN, 2002). Advocating for strengthening the readiness of nurses, the International Nursing Coalition for Mass Casualty Education (I.N.C.M.C.E.) was formed and surveyed nursing programs throughout the United States. They found that nursing schools only provided about four hours of content in the area of disaster preparedness and that this had not significantly changed since 9-11 (Weiner, Irwin, Trangenstein & Gordon, 2005). The survey also found that nursing faculty was unprepared in the area of disaster management. Barriers that prevented integrating disaster content into the nursing curriculum included minimal flexibility in the program to add preparedness content coupled with the difficulty of finding faculty with expertise in disaster management (Weiner et al, 2005).

 

INCMCE developed national competency standards for entry-level nurses. The core competencies identified apply to all nurses and practice settings. They include critical thinking, assessment, technical skills and communication. They need to have core knowledge of health promotion, risk reduction and disease prevention. They also need a basic understanding of the Incident Command Structure (I.C.S.), disaster triage methods and protocols (S.T.A.R.T.), personal protective equipment (P.P.E.), scene assessment and comprehensive emergency management. Professional role development for nurses needs to include training in how to be a direct care provider and member of a planning response team (INCME, 2003).

 

Towson University, College of Health Professions executed a Disaster Drill in the spring of 2008. During this pilot exercise, gaps and deficiencies in our state of readiness as a future public health workforce was revealed. Our post-event analysis showed that our nursing students were uncertain about disaster triage methods and roles. Only 16% of the respondents said that they were confident in their ability to respond to the needs of society in the event of a disaster. Post drill surveys showed that 91% of nursing students and non-nursing students had never had exposure to emergency preparedness drills. Faculty felt that students were ready to learn 3.4 on a scale of 1-5. The quality of the integrative experience with the Maryland Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) was 4.5 on a scale of 1-5. Eighty-two percent of the respondents felt that they gained a new understanding of emergency preparedness. Seventy-eight percent of them said that they would be willing to participate in future drills.

 

The data showed that our future nurses were woefully unprepared to respond in the event of an emergency and need hands-on experience and training. Generally, nurses practice under controlled situations with many resources available to them. This is not the case during a mass casualty event where supplies are limited and nurses must perform under stressful and suboptimal conditions. A nurse may be involved in several roles during a disaster and be required to assess several victims and prioritize their care quickly to ensure that resources are used appropriately and effectively.

 

Nurses can have a great influence on persons who experience disaster-related stress by providing education and emotional support. It is imperative that they are able to screen and identify the needs of vulnerable populations. Nurses are an increasingly important part of disaster response. There is an urgent need to expand their knowledge base and experience in disaster nursing.

 

References

 

American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Statement of commitment on mass casualty and bioterrorism preparedness. Retrieved on July 2, 2008 from http://aacn.org/aacn/pubpolcy.nsf/vwdoc/set11?opendocument.

 

Core Public Health Worker Competencies for Emergency Preparedness and Response (2001). Center for Health Policy, Columbia University School of Nursing, 1-3.

 

Educational Competencies for Registered Nurses Responding to Mass Casualty Incidents (2003). Retrieved on July 1, 2008 from http/www.incmce.org/competenciespage.html.

 

Weiner, E., Irwin, M. Trangenstein, P. & Gordon, J. (2005). Emergency Preparedness Curriculum in Nursing Schools in the United States. Nursing Education Perspectives, Nov/Dec., 26 (6), 334-339.

AHRQ Releases Healthcare Cost and Utilization Reports

Dear Colleagues,

 

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) - of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - requests placement of announcements related to the release of databases, tools, and reports from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) in your organization's electronic publications and newsletters. HCUP produces a variety of valuable health care resources for health services researchers and policymakers. The Agency's research has shown that your readership would benefit from knowing about HCUP and its resources.

 

Please consider including information on the release of two recent HCUP databases in the upcoming edition of the Public Health Nursing Section Newsletter: the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) and the 2006 Kids' Inpatient Database (KID). These databases capture national and regional information on health care utilization, quality, and cost in the United States. We have provided sample text below and would be happy to provide you with alternate text, should your layout and spacing requirements necessitate a revision.

 

If you are aware of other means of dissemination within your organization that would be suited for HCUP information, such as additional publications or mailing lists, please consider inclusion of HCUP announcements in these resources as well.

 

As additional HCUP databases and related products are released, we are happy to provide you with updated announcements. Please contact us at hcup@ahrq.gov if you wish to discuss this further or to let us know that you are including an announcement about HCUP. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

P. Hannah Davis

Manager, HCUP User Support

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

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