Monday, December 13, 2010

Nursing students and faculty co-present at national public health conference

College of Nursing faculty and students presented their multidisciplinary work at Villanova to an even larger multidisciplinary group in Denver at the fall APHA meeting. It was an “energizing experience” says Dr. Elizabeth Keech, right, joined by Dr. Ruth McDermott-Levy and senior nursing students Katie Weatherbie and Caitlin Krenek.

Elizabeth Keech, PhD, RN and Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, RN, assistant professors at Villanova University College of Nursing, were joined by their students, seniors Caitlin Krenek and Katie Weatherbie, respectively, for paper presentations at a recent national conference. Each pair presented their aspect of study for the multidisciplinary Villanova project “Improved Rural Health Care Through Low-cost Telecommunication in Waslala, Nicaragua” at the 138th American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting on November 10 in Denver. The theme of the meeting was Social Justice: A Public Health Imperative.

The nursing group has been working on the Nicaragua project with faculty and students from the College of Engineering and the Villanova School of Business. “Having the opportunity to collaborate here at Villanova with students of other disciplines broadens our students’ perspectives,” explains Dr. Keech.

Both nursing and engineering faculty and students have been promoting health and a clean accessible water supply in Waslala for years. With this project, the nurses are assessing the learning needs of community health workers (CHWs) and their understanding of health issues in the area, and will be aiding them in the use of cell phone technology to assess and treat their fellow community members with health concerns but who are at a distance from trained medical professionals. They are also working with local officials to gain support and collect more background information. Since health-related statistics such as births or deaths are either unreliable or not reported at all, the nurses are assisting the community with capturing data consistently and building a foundation of health records that can be used for evaluation of interventions.

Dr. Keech and Krenek presented “Assessing health outcomes using telehealth in remote areas of Nicaragua.” Krenek enjoyed meeting other members of APHA with similar goals and collaborating with them. “It really opened my eyes to possible professional paths I can pursue in the future,” she says of the large, multidisciplinary conference. Weatherbie agrees, “It showed the impact research can have on a population. Speaking to people interested in our project after we presented was encouraging as well.” She presented "Self-indentified learning needs of lay health workers in rural Nicaragua" with Dr. McDermott-Levy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Helping Main Line Health prepare for disaster

Villanova nursing students as well as faculty and staff assisted Main Line Health’s Riddle Memorial Hospital in Media, Pa. during its October 13th disaster drill. The volunteers, led by Joanna McGrath MSN RN, adjunct faculty, at Villanova University College of Nursing, participated in the drill which was being conducted to assess emergency preparedness at multiple hospitals across Delaware County. Feedback from the participants and the hospital staff will be used to identify areas of strength in performance as well as areas for improvement.

The Villanova Nursing volunteers prepare for the disaster drill at Riddle Memorial Hospital, including Patricia Prieto, MSN, RN, clinical skills specialist in the Learning Resource Center [LRC] (left), Joanna McGrath, MSN RN, adjunct faculty (3rd from right), and undergraduate students Julia McGrath, Karyn Holiday, Brianna Bennet, Eric Eshleman, and Maddie Wechsler. Not pictured are Susan Markert, LRC assistant and Karen May, MSN, RN, doctoral student.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Omani nursing students enjoy National Day celebration

On November 16th, a group from the Villanova University College of Nursing enjoyed a reception for the 40th celebration of the Sultanate of Oman’s National Day. Twenty-four Omani undergraduate and graduate nursing students along with Rose O’Driscoll, MSN, RN, assistant dean for Administration at the College who was representing Dean Fitzpatrick, were invited to the Omani Embassy in Washington, D.C. for a gathering hosted by H. E. Hunaina Sultan Al-Mughairy, the ambassador of Oman. They also visited with Cultural Attaché Dr. Asya Al-Lamki.

Oman’s Ambassador to the United States, H. E. Hunaina Sultan Al-Mughairy, (back row, 4th from left) joined College of Nursing students during the National Day reception she hosted.

College of Nursing students from the Sultanate of Oman spoke with Cultural Attaché Dr. Asya Al-Lamki (5th from left) during National Day festivities in Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Expert midwife uses creativity and skill in Haiti

In the sequence above, Dr. Trout (right) and fellow volunteers are ready for the drive into the countryside of Hinche, passing large groups of displaced people to arrive at the prenatal clinic after crossing a stream and climbing a hill.

Dr. Trout, 2nd from left, outside the maternity ward at Hopital Ste. Therese de Hinche where she and colleague Megan Donaghy delivered a baby girl, seen with mother at right.

Separated from patients in the hospital, those who were infected with cholera were cared for in roughly a dozen cholera tents (left) around and on the hospital property or a makeshift ward in the church, right. As Dr. Trout entered the church she found a man who had recently died, only 12 hours after the onset of symptoms. Later, seeing his body on the ground where deceased victims were placed with no covering, she used a paper gown that she brought on the trip to cover him.

As cholera overwhelmed its victims in the Ste. Therese compound, Dr. Trout was part of at least one miraculous outcome. Mirlinda, above, is a 4-year old girl with severe dehydration from cholera who the day before had collapsed just after a medical volunteer finally gained intravenous access. She was rehydrated and was well enough to sit up-- IV fluids still infusing-- and sip at oral rehydration solution.

Records are an integral part of health care, even in Haiti. Here, Dr. Trout used her preparation in statistics to assist a local volunteer with Midwives for Haiti in developing spreadsheets and entering data from a birthing log to be able to better track outcomes and evaluate programs.

“I never felt more proud to be a nurse”-Dr. Kim Trout
Villanova, PA, November 30, 2010— A cold drip of a shower, a functional mode of transportation and intravenous access in a dying dehydrated child were just a few of the things that Kimberly Trout, Ph.D., CNM, a certified nurse midwife and assistant professor at Villanova University College of Nursing, was grateful for over the Thanksgiving holiday when she volunteered for a week with the organization Midwives for Haiti. Being involved with the Haitian people and their dire situation was an experience that affected her deeply, even after 23 years as a professional. “I never felt more proud to be a nurse,” she notes.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. According to Midwives for Haiti, 76% of all deliveries are done by non-qualified persons, contributing to the highest infant and maternal mortality in the western hemisphere. Fifteen percent of newborns have low birth weight and 25% of the children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Dr. Trout volunteered to deliver babies and educate Haitian women in providing prenatal care and skilled birth assistance. The need for help is even greater in the post-earthquake country with a population increasingly succumbing to cholera, a waterborne disease that can dehydrate and kill within hours.

Dr. Trout and Megan Donaghy, CNM, RN, a colleague from their midwifery practice at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, landed in Port-au-Prince with supplies for their clinical work and donated neonatal stethoscopes. Dr. Trout also brought donated demonstration supplies for the students such as incision and breast models, as well as hand sanitizer; vitamin, calcium and iron pills; and bed sheets donated from the College staff and faculty so birthing mothers would not have to lie on cold plastic atop a metal litter. Women who are giving birth are to bring their own sheet and bucket to the maternity ward.

After reloading supplies onto an overcrowded van (their first vehicle had a flat tire) they began the 3-hour trek north, over mountains, to their home base, Hinche, 60 miles away in Haiti’s central plateau. They were soon crossing over rocky streambeds by foot, arriving at the mobile prenatal clinic in Fonbren and to see 21 patients before having to depart due to the threat of flood rains. Dr. Trout, fluent in French and accompanied by a Kreyol interpreter, performed prenatal exams and did health promotion teaching there. While the women receive worm and malaria prophylaxis as well as tetanus shots, complicating their lives is the potentially fatal danger of cholera, now rapidly spreading through the countryside with about 1900 deaths thus far. The women live with no reliable water supply, electricity or sanitation, and wash in the rivers and streams.

Later that afternoon Dr. Trout visited an orphanage in Azile run by the Daughters of Charity, where she hugged and played with children who were there for treatment of malnourishment. “Patty-cake was a favorite game of the kids, and many just wanted to be held,” she recalls. The days that followed were spent at Hopital Ste. Therese de Hinche. While Dr. Trout planned to help mothers deliver babies, she spent more time where the greatest need was—in the surrounding cholera tents and makeshift cholera ward in the church where they averaged two deaths each day. She assessed countless patients for dehydration and started or ran IVs to keep patients alive, hanging IV bags from tent ties. “Basic nursing skills were needed the most,” she explains. Luckily, the team was able to gain IV access on 4-year old Mirlinda, who was near death but rebounded after a day of fluid and electrolyte replenishment.

An equally happy occasion occurred with the birth of an infant girl in the maternity ward inside the hospital. The laboring mother was having severe back pain and with no analgesics, benefited from Dr. Trout’s expertise in using sterile water papules (small injections of sterile water under the skin in the lower back to interfere with pain perception and ease labor) for pain relief. “Low-tech” created a more pleasant and safe birth experience for the mother than she would have had otherwise.

When not caring for patients, Dr. Trout was asked to consult with a volunteer with Partners in Health on additional topics to include in teaching modules for community health workers and new mothers. She advised including recognition of and treatment for breastfeeding complications, umbilical cord care and caesarean-section wound care. Additionally, she aided her interpreter from Midwives for Haiti in organizing an electronic record for statistical analysis of birth data. That work is ongoing.

Dr. Trout’s dedication to safe and healthy pregnancies and births for mothers and babies is evident. Not only does her passion and compassion benefit patients in Philadelphia but now in Haiti as well. For her, the benefit flowed both ways. Like others who have felt the pull of Haiti, Dr. Trout simply says, “I want to go back.”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

College of Nursing continues accreditation by CCNE

The College of Nursing proudly announces the continued accreditation of its undergraduate and graduate programs by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Reaccreditation was granted for 10 years.

The College had its site visit from the CCNE—the accreditation agency in relationship with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing— in February 2010 as part of the 10-year renewal process. The official review and subsequent notification of reaccreditation came this fall. The achievement follows the College’s recent designation as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing (NLN). It received the honor for the third consecutive time at the NLN’s Education Summit 2010 in Las Vegas on October 1st.

“The Center of Excellence designation reflects the quality and national distinction of nursing education at Villanova,” says M. Louise Fitzpatrick, EdD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor.

The Center of Excellence (COE) recognition identifies schools of exceptional quality and is separate from accreditation. Schools are reviewed in one of three categories of their choice. The College’s designation was related to its commitment to “Creating Environments that Advance the Science of Nursing Education.” The College was among the first three schools to receive the inaugural COE designation in 2004 and received it again in 2007.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Villanova Nursing Chapter of SNAP is again voted top in state

Members of SNAP-Villanova's delegation to the state SNAP convention in Lancaster pose with the certificate award for the most outstanding chapter in Pennsylvania (large chapter category).

The Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP) again recognized the Villanova Chapter of SNAP as the Most Outstanding Chapter in the state in the category of chapters with over 100 members. It is an unusual honor for a chapter to win the state’s highest award in two consecutive years. The award was presented at SNAP’s 58th Annual Convention Defying Gravity: Nursing without Boundaries held in Lancaster from November 17 - 20, 2010.

Senior Lindsey Waters, chapter president, led the delegation of forty-one students who joined over 800 other participants at the convention. College of Nursing freshman through seniors attended, including international and adult learner students, along with longtime chapter advisor Carol Toussie Weingarten, PhD, RN, ANEF, associate professor.

In addition, SNAP-Villanova's October Breast Cancer Awareness project which disseminated breast self-exam shower cards to dorms on campus was runner up in the state wide Community Health Award competition. The project was chaired by Executive Vice President Megan Copel, a junior. Waters and fellow seniors Alyssa Canino, co-chair of special projects and Alison Spicer, vice president, received scholarship awards for excellence.

SNAP-Villanova's resolution focusing on prevention of text messaging while driving was passed by the House of Delegates and becomes an official "stand" of the state association. Authored by seniors Kaitlyn K. Murphy, legislative coordinator, and Caitlin Krenek, fundraising co-chair, the resolution was presented by classmate Caitlin Singlemann. Further Villanova leadership was demonstrated in the elections. As has happened each year since the early 80s, a Villanovan was elected to the state SNAP Board of Directors. Michael Martinoli, a junior who had been the 2009-2010 legislative coordinator, is now secretary/treasurer, replacing outgoing senior Ellen Stoner.

The College of Nursing presence was extended through speakers such as Dr. Weingarten who presented Caring for Wounded and Ill Troops: Volunteering with the Chaplains' Wounded Warrior Ministry Projects at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. College of Nursing alumna and former state SNAP President Jenny Yost, ’00 BSN, PhD, RN presented a keynote address Defying Gravity: Nursing Without Boundaries, along with her mother, Eileen Yost, RN, nurse manager of New York City's Roosevelt-St. Luke's Hospital Emergency Department.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

College of Nursing welcomed New Zealand nursing scholar

Dr. Spence, right, joins for a photo after observing senior nursing students and faculty Michelle Kelly, MSN, CRNP in a pediatric asthma scenario.

The College of Nursing was pleased to host Deb Spence, PhD this fall. Dr. Spence is responsible for both graduate and undergraduate students in the nursing program at her college – AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand. She was traveling in the United States this semester on a sabbatical to learn more about advanced practice nursing (APN) education and clinical practice and the use of simulation in nursing education. During her time in the United States, she was visiting a variety of educational and clinical locations to explore different teaching strategies, our approach to a culture of safety, and nurse-managed community clinics. She was particularly interested in seeing how low/high fidelity simulation can be used for undergraduate instruction especially mental health nursing scenarios and in APN education for enhancing clinical preparation and decision making.

Dr. Spence’s areas of teaching are advanced practice nursing, culture of safety and philosophy of science. In her faculty role, she provides research supervision for master’s and doctoral students in nursing and other disciplines who are conducting qualitative research especially using hermeneutic phenomenology.

Nursing student leads Naval ROTC battalion

Melding nursing and campus leadership is not new to Villanova nursing students but one senior, Megan A. Walsh, has put an even more unique spin on it. Walsh, the oldest of three children from Langhorne, Pa. and the daughter of two Army officers, is the first nursing student to be the Battalion Commander of the University’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Unit, a role she assumed in Spring 2010 for this academic year.

“Nobody has really attempted this job so far because of the time commitment of the position, the hours necessary to commit to nursing clinical and class, and the amount of time required for planning, coordinating, and carrying out all NROTC events,” explains Walsh. “I owe my ability to successfully carry out the semester to the help of my Executive Officer, Nicholas Moran, who is a senior marine option, and to the other dedicated members of the battalion staff.” She is a humble, smart, talented —and very busy—student who also balances membership in Alpha Phi sorority and the campus club lacrosse team.

Why Naval ROTC? Walsh was inspired by the sister of a high school friend, Lt. Emily Karonis, ’07 BSN who was then a Villanova Nursing student in NROTC. “She really introduced me to the relationship between Villanova and the Navy on campus and the important role of the nursing school in Villanova's Naval history,” explains Walsh.

The NROTC experience complements the nursing leadership skills she continues to develop, as well as her clinical education. “ROTC enhances my nursing education by providing me with extensive summer training experiences. I came into clinical with experience and confidence after my summer training in a ship's hospital ward after my freshmen year, and at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego during this past summer,” notes Walsh, where she was also able to shadow alumna Karonis. “After working in the naval hospital this past summer, I experienced the excellent reputation that Villanova Nurses have in the Navy, set by Villanova grads who are junior officers up to the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps and higher,” she adds. Both training sessions essentially served as externships, providing her with hands-on experience treating general medical-surgical, obstetric and pediatric patients. It also exposed her to career options. She offers, “I would like to be stationed in NMC San Diego on either a postpartum, pediatric, or labor and delivery floor and eventually cross train into the NICU.” She hopes to become a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Walsh sees how she has grown with even sharper skills in time management, short- and long-term planning, risk management and delegation. “These are crucial to my nursing career in managing patient care and delegating to make sure everything is completed to a high standard during the shift,” says Walsh, adding “I've also learned how to adapt myself and my leadership style to work with a variety of people. I've learned the importance of honing in on what motivates people in order to help them appreciate the importance of getting a task done.”

College of Nursing’s nurse anesthesia program reaccredited

The nurse anesthesia program of the Villanova University College of Nursing and Crozer-Chester Medical Center has been reaccredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs, a specialized accrediting body recognized by both the U.S. Department of Education and The Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The reaccreditation process occurs every 10 years.

The nurse anesthesia specialty in the College’s Graduate Program prepares nurses with a sound base of theoretical knowledge and clinical experience in the practice of nursing anesthesia as they earn their master of science in nursing degree. The 27-month program consists of classroom and clinical experience that exceed the minimum requirement set forth by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs and offers unique learning opportunities to its students.

Interestingly, certified nurse anesthetists or CRNAs, who are the main provider of anesthesia to men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, have their roots in the 1800s, when nurses first gave anesthesia to wounded soldiers on the battlefields of the Civil War. They are the first healthcare providers dedicated to the specialty of anesthesia. CRNAs provide anesthetics to patients in every practice setting, and for every type of surgery or procedure, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. CRNAs are also the sole anesthesia providers in two-thirds of all rural hospitals, and the main provider of anesthesia to expectant mothers.

The College of Nursing’s nurse anesthesia concentration began in 1997. The current program with Crozer-Chester Medical Center admitted its first students in August 2002. The highly competitive program, which draws students nationally, offers three curriculum course tracks that give students flexibility and the opportunity to take MSN classes prior to the anesthesia clinical component. There are traditional, nontraditional, and post-master’s courses of study. With many of the core courses online, both out-of-state and local students can take courses prior to enrolling in the anesthesia portion of the program; this enables the working student to continue full-time employment while studying at home. Students are exposed to a variety of full-time adjunct faculty, consisting of board-certified anesthesiologists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and doctorally prepared faculty.

The program has access to all facilities at Crozer-Chester Medical Center and its affiliated institutions. Students hone clinical judgment and skills in clinical scenarios on Villanova’s interactive human patient simulators and anesthesia machines before seeing similar cases in the operative setting. Clinical experience is obtained at more than 20 clinical sites located in Philadelphia and its suburbs, central Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware to gain exposure to different facilities and techniques. Rotating to various clinical sites also helps students network and most are quickly recruited upon graduation. Upon completion of the professional curriculum, students are eligible to take the National Certification Exam administered by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists. To date, graduate performance on the national certification examination far exceeds the national norm.

For more info about the program, visit .

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nurses Talking Trash

Claire A. Baldwin, MSN, RN, vice president of Patient Services at Bryn Mawr Hospital, and staff nurse Carol Fazzini, RN, C join Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, RN, assistant professor at Villanova University College of Nursing (right) after a successful "Let's Talk Trash" pilot program for Main Line Health System nurses.

On a given day, nurses talk with patients about their illnesses and talk with team members about patient outcomes. Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, RN and colleague Carol Fazzini, RN, C have a lot of nurses also talking trash—waste generated by providing patient care, that is. According to Practice Green Health, as much as 85% of hospital waste is non-hazardous solid waste such as paper, cardboard and food. This waste can be recycled or composted thus reducing the waste stream and hauling costs.

Dr. McDermott-Levy, assistant professor at Villanova University College of Nursing, is a fervent advocate for a clean environment, as well as minimizing environmental health risks and the impact of healthcare on the environment. She is a community member of Main Line Health’s Healthy Work and Environment Council, and with Fazzini, a staff nurse on a telemetry unit at Bryn Mawr Hospital and co-chair of the Healthy Work and Environment Council, developed a program to address the concern of nurses in the health system.

Dr. McDermott-Levy collaborated with Fazzini to write a grant for Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals and others with similar interests that works to implement ecologically sound and healthy alternatives to health care practices that pollute the environment and contribute to disease. This same group identified her as a Nurse Luminary in 2009 for her environmental work. With the funds from HCWH which supported consultation from Women's Environmental Health Network (WHEN), she and Fazzini created "Let's Talk Trash."

The "Let's Talk Trash" program teaches fellow nurses about the environmental impact of waste on healthcare systems and communities and how to safely reduce the amount of waste generated at the point of care. It was piloted at Bryn Mawr Hospital through four classes to cover various nursing shifts. Trash hauls are now being measured to see if there is a positive impact after the educational program. Claire A. Baldwin, MSN, RN, vice president of Patient Services at Bryn Mawr Hospital, is a proponent of the endeavor. Dr. McDermott-Levy explains, “She has been supportive of this program from the start and is working with a group from the hospital to expand Green Initiatives more widely.”

Developing this partnership and implementing such a program in a large health care system has been satisfying for those involved. Dr. McDermott-Levy and Fazzini shared the process through an article published in Nursing Administration Quarterly. [McDermott-Levy, R., & Fazzini, C. (2010). Identifying the Key Personnel in a Nurse-Initiated Hospital Waste Reduction Program. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 34 (4), 306–310.] “It has been rewarding to facilitate green practices with the hospital that serves my own family and community and one where I practiced as a young nurse,” notes Dr. McDermott-Levy, adding “The practice-academic partnership has enriched my teaching."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Villanova's College of Nursing represented in groundbreaking Philadelphia mural project

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter addresses those gathered for the nursing mural dedication on October 2, 2010; below, Villanova's Nursing Dean, Dr. Louise Fitzpatrick (4th from left), joins other sponsors in receiving a commemorative mural photo with artist Meg Saligman (far left).

Nursing will once again have a prominent face for those in the busy Philadelphia thoroughfare of Broad and Vine Sts. On October 6th the latest mural The Evolving Face of Nursing was dedicated at that location with representatives of the Villanova University College of Nursing in attendance. The College sponsored the mural , along with other schools and corporate and community friends of nursing. The College is also represented in the mural through the faces of its faculty, students and alumni.

The Evolving Face of Nursing is a groundbreaking project of the city’s Mural Arts Program, the largest in the nation. Philadelphia, which has already earned international recognition as the “City of Murals” can now claim the only mural with embedded LED lighting. As part of the artwork, leading nurses from throughout the city were captured in portraits and these portraits were reproduced on a large scale by renowned muralist Meg Saligman. This classical, elegant imagery will be lit with LED lighting that will change color throughout the night. The faces will transform on the wall as they appear to glow and shift in color, drawing in the passing viewer. All aspects of the career of nursing are represented in the mural, from students and directors to home care and visiting nurses.

Those with College of Nursing ties who are associated with the mural include Elise Pizzi, MSN, CRNP, adjunct assistant professor; ’72 alumna Donna Torrisi, MSN, CRNP, network executive director of the Family Practice and Counseling Network; undergraduate students Jennifer V. Hoang, David Sauerhoff and Ellen Stoner; graduate student Lena J. Congo and international student Suhaila K. Al Subhi, a nurse from the Sultanate of Oman.

The Evolving Face of Nursing, which replaced an older mural of nursing, captures the voices and images of Philadelphia’s nurses, reflecting their commitment to the people they serve and highlighting their ever-evolving role at the center of the healthcare profession. Saligman researched and interviewed practicing nurses throughout Philadelphia, exploring what exactly they want to say about their profession. The mural is a narrative that begins with the bygone days of starched uniforms and hats, and moves to the story of present day nurses who take on increasing responsibility, practicing with knowledge, skill, compassion and care. This 6,500 square foot mural animated with lights is unlike any other piece of public art that has been created. The mural is one image by day, and a different one by night with the lights.

Wall preparations began in October 2009. Over the winter and spring of 2010, Saligman worked on the design, and the mural was painted on sections of cloth in the artist’s studio during the fall and winter. Installation of the painted cloth and the LED lights began in April 2010. Students at Philadelphia-area schools participated in the painting of the mural in September 2010. It will be lit every evening.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Villanova Nursing to lead integration of disability content in NP curriculum

Nursing care of people with disabilities will improve in the future thanks to efforts stemming from a team at Villanova University College of Nursing, led by Elizabeth Blunt, Ph.D., R.N., APN, BC, assistant professor and coordinator of the nurse practitioner programs, and Suzanne Smeltzer, Ed.D., R.N., FAAN, professor and director of the College’s Center for Nursing Research. The College has received a three-year grant from the Advanced Education Nursing Program of the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its project Preparing Primary Care Nurse Practitioners (NPs) to Care for Patients with Disabilities: Integration of Content into the Nurse Practitioner Curriculum. The purpose of this project is to improve the nursing care of a much underserved group in the United States: people with disabilities.

"Disability affects one in every fourth or fifth person in the U.S. This number is expected to increase because of the aging of the population, survival of many children with developmental disabilities and childhood illnesses well into adulthood, improved management of chronic illnesses and trauma, and adoption of healthy lifestyles by many,” notes Dr. Blunt, adding “Although nurse practitioners provide excellent primary care, many nurse practitioners are not as well prepared to work effectively with patients with disabilities as we would like.”

During the project, nurse practitioner teaching strategies will be identified and tested at Villanova’s College of Nursing and then shared nationally. Dr. Blunt, who maintains a clinical practice as a family nurse practitioner, describes some of the strategies, “We will be integrating individuals with disabilities in our classrooms and simulation labs to provide the same educational experiences for caring for individuals with disabilities as we do for all individuals. Additionally, when the grant project is fully implemented, nurse practitioner students in all tracks --adult, pediatrics, family--at Villanova University will complete a clinical practicum experience in a setting with individuals with disabilities." Currently, most NP programs do not include this sort of component in their curriculum.

“We hope to change the curricula of nurse practitioner programs across the country to include content related to disability so that future nurse practitioners are able to provide quality care to this population,” explains Dr. Smeltzer. She had led the College’s research and health promotion for people with disabilities through its Health Promotion for Women with Disabilities Project funded by a grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. Dr. Smeltzer, an internationally known scholar, researcher, educator and author, has served on disabilities-related committees and advisory groups and much of her research has addressed health issues of people with multiple sclerosis and other disabilities.

Why is this such a critical topic? There is strong empirical evidence that individuals with disabilities receive health care less often and are offered less effective and less aggressive treatment than their non-disabled counterparts. Based on the continuing health care disparities that affect people with disabilities, in 2005 the U.S. Surgeon General issued a Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities for measures to ensure accessible, comprehensive health care for all persons with disabilities so that they are able to have full, engaged and productive lives in their own communities. The Call to Action specifically identified the need for health profession education programs, including medicine and nursing, to teach students about disability.

College of Nursing honored for third time as Center of Excellence in Nursing Education

The Villanova University College of Nursing proudly announces its continued designation as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing (NLN). It received the honor for the third consecutive time at the NLN’s Education Summit 2010 in Las Vegas on October 1st.

“The Center of Excellence designation reflects the quality and national distinction of nursing education at Villanova,” says M. Louise Fitzpatrick, EdD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor.

The Center of Excellence (COE) recognition identifies schools of exceptional quality and is separate from accreditation. Schools are reviewed in one of three categories of their choice. The College’s designation was related to its commitment to “Creating Environments that Advance the Science of Nursing Education.” The College was among the first three schools to receive the inaugural COE designation in 2004 and received it again in 2007.

In the spirit of its national leadership role in nursing education, the College advances the science of nursing education in numerous ways. It is committed to using and conducting pedagogical research. Students, and nursing education in general, benefit from the College’s dedication to a model of scholarship that emphasizes a robust faculty role and the importance of evidence-based models of teaching and learning. The College embraces its pioneering health promotion course where students become involved participants in community health and encourages student participation in international experiential immersion learning opportunities as part of required courses. The College also has a major initiative integrating the use of scenario-based learning experiences in its state-of-the art clinical simulation labs with related systematic inquiry and research in the use of simulation for teaching and learning.

These are just a few examples, complemented by a strong tradition of mentorship between faculty and students to enhance the learning experience, demonstrating the dedication at Villanova’s College of Nursing to advancing the science of nursing education.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Quality of life after breast cancer

As October once again brings breast cancer to the forefront of public awareness, Patricia K. Bradley, PhD, RN continues to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge surrounding African American Breast Cancer Survivors (AABCS).

Dr. Bradley, associate professor in the College of Nursing at Villanova University, has a career-long commitment to her research related to breast cancer. Currently, she is co-investigator with principal investigator Andrea Barsevick, PhD, RN, FAAN of Philadelphia’s Fox Chase Cancer Center to study Problems and Resources of African American Breast Cancer Survivors with a four-year American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant.

“Our grant will focus on African American Breast Cancer Survivors because less is known about their survivor challenges or the resources available for dealing with these challenges. This study is unique because it will help us learn how African American women deal with stress after their breast cancer treatment has ended,” explains Dr. Bradley. She further notes, “Having women tell their stories and having women answer questions on a survey will give us a better idea of what it is like to be an African American breast cancer survivor. Our ultimate goal is to develop a product or program that addresses quality of life needs of AABCS and prepare for its evaluation in future research.”

Dr. Bradley, who has taught psychiatric and mental health nursing at Villanova since 1997, has been an active board member with Linda Creed, a non-profit breast cancer organization, for over ten years. She currently serves as president of the board of directors. She has an extended devotion to public awareness of breast cancer by developing training programs and materials that focus on the needs of the African American community. Dr. Bradley is the co-author of the award winning educational booklet Getting Connected: African Americans Living Beyond Breast Cancer. She is the 2003 recipient of the Elaine M. Ominsky Humanitarian Award from Linda Creed, honored for her many years of distinguished service in raising awareness, especially among African American women, about breast cancer. Dr. Bradley is also a national and regional volunteer with the American Cancer Society, and chair of the National Diversity Advisory Group. Her commitment to the improvement of women’s lives after breast cancer is evidenced by her selection as the 2004 recipient of the Inaugural Founder’s Award from the advocacy organization, Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Dr. Bradley is also the recipient of the American Cancer Society’s Southeast Region Volunteer Gold Achievement Award and their Sisters Surviving Breast Cancer Tribute Award for outstanding work in education, advocacy, and quality of life issues for African American women with breast cancer.

Dr. Bradley has been a faculty member for the Oncology Nursing Society’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Workshop for Nurse Educators in Minority-Serving Institutions and a Special Populations Investigator at Thomas Jefferson University’s Department of Behavioral Epidemiology where she conducted a pilot study of “Preparing African American Women for Breast Biopsy.” Her research interests include psychosocial responses to illness and trauma and developing strategies to adopt healthy screening behaviors.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dr. Elizabeth Dowdell receives DOJ grant to study risk- and Internet-related behaviors in adolescents

Keeping youth safe on the Internet is not only a passion but a mission for Elizabeth Burgess Dowdell, Ph.D., R.N., CRNP, associate professor at Villanova University College of Nursing. She has been awarded a grant of nearly $314,000 by the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention [OJJDP]. Dr. Dowdell is the principal investigator for the study “Self Exploitation and Electronic Aggression: High Risk Internet Behaviors in Adolescents." The award is for two years, beginning January 1, 2011 through the end of 2012.

“The primary goal of this research project is to examine the relationships between a range of risk-related and Internet-related behaviors,” says Dr. Dowdell whose research interests focus on Internet victimization of children, health risk behaviors and vulnerability across the lifespan, victimology, and nursing care of children.

This project will survey high school students about participation in self-exploitative behaviors and risky social networking behaviors (such as auto-pornography, “sexting” and Face Roulette) that may increase victimization. Assessment of student Internet knowledge and practice is vital to understanding what motivates some adolescents to create and distribute explicit photos of themselves or others. Questions will also be asked specific to electronic aggression, about what differentiates students who use the Internet to embarrass, harass, or bully others from the student victims.

Knowledge gained from a high school population will provide insights for designing developmentally appropriate strategies that have the potential to enhance existing Internet safety programs. “By better understanding patterns of creating and distributing explicit or inappropriate photos, precursors and correlates of risky Internet behavior, and motivators of electronic aggression, we will be better able to design prevention strategies to keep youth safer on the Internet,” explains Dr. Dowdell. Previous studies have looked at Internet behaviors and experiences of middle school students, high school students, their parents and a population of Internet offenders.

Dr. Dowdell is an expert in the area of forensic pediatric nursing and Internet safety. She shares her knowledge as a member of the editorial review panel of the Journal of Forensic Nursing, as well as scholarly publications, national presentations and expert commentary for the media.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nursing alumna returns from Oman to study accreditation

This August, the College of Nursing welcomed nurses from the Sultanate of Oman who are studying for their BSN, MSN and PhD degrees. The College has nearly 200 alumni in Oman, the outcome of the 16-year relationship it enjoys with the Ministry of Health in Oman to educate Omani nurses to assume leadership positions in education and administration in their country.

Among the nurses arriving this summer was Samira Al-Rawahi, who is on a three-month Fulbright scholarship studying accreditation in the United States. She earned her MSN in 1997 at Villanova in nursing education. She was the first nurse educator in Oman and is currently the most senior person in nursing education in Oman. Her role is Education Advisor to Oman’s Institute of Health Science where she is involved with accreditation system and all activities dealing with education and quality.

“Accreditation has always been my interest. Oman is now establishing an accreditation system in Higher Education and I am also involved in implementing the system,” she explains. She is based at the College of Nursing analyzing the accreditation process for schools of nursing and Villanova University as well. She will also travel to Washington D.C. and to Atlanta, Georgia to meet key people affiliated with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, respectively.

When Ms. Al-Rawahi returns to Oman in late October, she will make recommendations for improvements in the new accreditation system to those involved with the process.

Friday, September 3, 2010

College of Nursing on cutting edge of psychiatric simulation

Nursing students in their psychiatric nursing clinical practicum learn ways of helping people who hear distressing voices as they participate in a clinical simulation of auditory hallucinations. Here they are distracted by voices through the headphones and struggle to complete tasks as they undergoing cognitive testing and an evaluation by a psychiatrist in a simulated emergency department scenario, mimicking a patient experience.

With mental disorders being so common in the United States and around the world—one in four American adults or approximately 58 million people have a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)—the impact on nursing is significant. The weight of more serious illness is seen in about 1 in 17 of those affected. Mental disorders cross all age groups and cultures and are seen in all care settings. The Villanova University College of Nursing recently implemented an innovative new clinical simulation for second semester junior nursing students to increase their understanding of the patient experience for those with more severe disease which includes hearing distressing voices. Student Erika Clark calls it an “eye-opener.” “Understanding your patient's perspective is necessary for quality nursing care,” she notes.

Targeting the care of patients who hear distressing voices (for instance, those with schizophrenia affecting about 1% of Americans, according to NIMH statistics), College faculty and associate professors Patricia K. Bradley, PhD, RN and Gale Robinson-Smith, PhD, RN, along with consultant Colleen Meakim, MSN, RN, director of the College’s Learning Resource Center, applied for and received a University VITAL (Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning) grant to implement the Hearing Voices That Are Distressing (HVTAD) experience with their undergraduate Psychiatric Nursing clinical students starting this fall semester. The HVTAD experience, which builds on the students’ previous classroom learning, has also been used elsewhere with first responders such as EMTs and police. “The College of Nursing is among the first nursing schools in the United States and Canada to use the simulation,” says Dr. Robinson-Smith.

“The HVTAD Program is a training and curriculum package that provides a simulation experience for undergraduate nursing students,” explains Meakim. Students are instructed in use of the headphones and the MP3 player recording and how the simulation will be conducted, as well as the location of a ‘safe zone” where they can adjust their headphones or seek assistance from faculty if they need to briefly step away from the immediate sensory experience. The students use headphones to listen to a specially designed recording which simulates auditory hallucinations as they perform a number of tasks at various workstations. They role play with “standardized professionals” (non-nursing students trained to act as mental health professionals) where they must participate in an evaluation interview with an emergency department psychiatrist, complete cognitive testing and interact while in a community day program activity. The simulation experience is followed by a debriefing and discussion period.

Dr. Bradley offers, “Through the simulation experience students increase their empathy and understanding of the lived-experience of psychiatric disability.” Student Shazi Khan recalls feeling “guarded and distracted” during his simulation period. A major objective of the simulation is for students to learn more effective ways of helping people who hear distressing voices. Classmate J. R. Beshore summarizes the impact of his scenarios, “I left the simulation with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what these patients live with, which will allow me to express true empathy when working with them. Every nursing student should have this experience.” Lauren Dornin agrees, “Regardless of their message, encouraging or degrading, the voices greatly impacted my concentration and overall sense of well-being. This was an invaluable experience and will allow me to better relate to and empathize with mental health patients in the future.”

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Serving those who serve

Dr. Carol Weingarten, in the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center, with cards made by members of the Villanova Chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania for which she is advisor.

Summer was a busy yet rewarding time for Carol Toussie Weingarten, PhD, RN, ANEF, associate professor in the College of Nursing. She and husband Michael S. Weingarten, MD, MBA, FACS, a VSB alumnus and professor of Surgery at Drexel University School of Medicine volunteered for their second consecutive summer working with the troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany. Inspired by their two-week mission last year, they did not hesitate to return in 2010 and are already slated to go back next July. “Courage, teamwork, superb care and kindness,” is how Dr. Weingarten summarizes the environment there, which was a good fit for her specialty area of health promotion and wellness.

LRMC is the largest American military hospital outside the United States, to which ill and wounded troops are taken from such places as Afghanistan and Iraq. Transition is a hallmark of LRMC, where the length of stay for inpatients can range from one to three days. Outpatients are housed for up to 14 days at the Medical Transient Detachment. Some patients are airlifted back to the U.S. for further care while others return downrange.

Through the Society for Vascular Surgery in cooperation with the American Red Cross, Dr. Michael Weingarten served as a volunteer vascular surgeon in the Combat Casualty Program where his skills were needed in the operating room and intensive care unit. Because there is no parallel nursing program, Dr. Carol Weingarten worked with outpatients as a civilian volunteer with the Chaplains' Wounded Warrior Ministry Center (WWMC) Projects. WWMC was created to provide comfort items like clothing and toiletries for wounded or ill service members but has expanded to provide further comfort. The WWMC incorporates several strategies to promote mental and spiritual health including combat support dinners, supervised trips for troops to areas of local interest and the Chaplains’ Closet –a “free” store with toiletries, adaptive clothing, handmade blankets, music, sweets and cards from well-wishers. The programs are supervised by pastoral care staff enhanced by volunteers, as appropriate, and contracted behavioral health specialists. Time itself can be a stressor as it stretches between tests and treatments. Dr. Weingarten explains, based on the time she spent supporting troops on the local trips and working with them at the Chaplain’s Closet, “I realized early in my experience as a WWMC civilian volunteer that (this was) a perfect placement for me. From a nursing perspective, the WWMC and its related projects are examples of health promotion.” Her work did not stop there.

“This year I undertook a nursing journalism project at LRMC. In 2009 I met and saw so many extraordinary nurses that I got permission from the Public Affairs Office and the Director of Nursing to interview nurses and staff in a variety of areas. I was welcomed everywhere,” notes Dr. Weingarten. Her work showcasing the efforts of the Army, Navy, Air Force and civilian nurses at LRMC will be published this October in The American Journal of Nursing and she targets a future publication in Pennsylvania Nurse. She is speaking this fall at the state Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP) convention about the couple’s experiences (she is the advisor for the Villanova Chapter of SNAP). In April, she and her husband are likely speaking together at the National Student Nurses’ Association convention. Her final thought? Dr. Weingarten reflects, “As I listened to each fascinating story, I realized that nursing becomes part of who you are, whether you are the interviewer or the person being interviewed.”

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dr. Marcia Costello interviewed on FOX news

Thanks to Dr. Marcia Costello, RD, assistant professor, who shared her expertise about contaminated eggs on Sunday night on Philly's Fox news.

See the clip here|23|36^1543864799|0|59^1543866103|0|59^1543867050|0|50^

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Doctoral student among first NLN Jonas Scholars

Jennifer Gunberg Ross, MSN, RN is among the first five doctoral students chosen from a national pool to be among the inaugural group of National League for Nursing Jonas Scholars to advance the science of nursing education. She is a doctoral student at the College of Nursing, Villanova University. Her dissertation focus is "The effect of simulation training on baccalaureate nursing students' competency in performing intramuscular injection" which meets a specific NLN research priority of Evaluation Research in Nursing Education.

The NLN Jonas Scholars Program is supporting 10 PhD candidates as they complete their dissertations. It is based on a two-year, $75,000 grant from the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence in New York City. The grant also supports expenses for the new researchers to attend a meeting later in the year with an assigned faculty mentor in nursing education. Ross earned her BSN (2000) and MSN (2005) degrees at Villanova.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Faculty positions

The College of Nursing at Villanova University seeks applications for two full-time, tenure track faculty positions at the rank of Assistant Professor with preparation in adult health and illness. The successful candidate will provide classroom, simulation laboratory and clinical teaching, advise students, engage in scholarly work in area of expertise and be an active participant in College and University life.

Doctorate in Nursing required, PhD preferred. Master’s degree in nursing with preparation in adult health and illness and licensure or eligibility for licensure as a registered nurse in Pennsylvania required.

Previous teaching experience in an academic nursing program in a college or university preferred. Experience with clinical simulation as a teaching methodology preferred as is evidence of scholarly productivity commensurate with appointment at the assistant professor level.

Villanova is a Catholic University sponsored by the Augustinian order. An AA/EEO employer, Villanova seeks a diverse faculty committed to scholarship, service, and especially teaching, who understand, respect, and can contribute to the University’s mission and values. Further information about the College of Nursing can be found at

To apply, please go to and click on Faculty Positions.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Autism: Critical Information ALL nurses need

With autism rates skyrocketing (1:110 children and 1:70 boys), this course is a must-do. Why? Nurses and nurse educators learn very little about the specifics of caring for children--and now adults--with autism who are seen in nearly all health care settings. This course changes that.

Find out the parent’s side of healthcare encounters from a nurse practitioner who is the mother of a medically complex, profoundly autistic child. A physician who is an expert in autism will address possible causes, current treatment options and future research areas. A behavioral analyst who specializes in therapies and care coordination will share information on the components of a successful treatment plan. You will learn practical strategies to enable you to facilitate the best possible care. The program concludes with a parents’ panel – they will answer questions and recommend ways for nurses to support both patients and families in their journey through the healthcare system.

Date: October 8, 2010

Time: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location: Driscoll Hall, Villanova University

Fee: $129.00 - 5.5 contact hours
$99.00 Group rate of 3 or more
$79.00 Student Rate

Faculty: Karen Blake, MSN, RN, CRNP, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, (Main Line Division) Wilmington, DE and Adjunct Clinical Instructor, College of Nursing, Villanova University; John J. Schadler, Jr, MS, BCBA, Behavior Analyst, Melmark and Rhonda S. Walter, MD, Chief, Division of Developmental Medicine, Nemours/A. I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, DE

Register at . Tell a friend!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

“Washa Tala”: Shining light on the crisis in Congo.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is clearly a country in crisis. Despite being rich in natural resources such as metals and diamonds, with years of war and continued instability, it is rife with violence and suffering. On July 28, 2010, Villanova nurses and the rest of the University community were privileged to hear from two extraordinary women associated with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the DRC who were shining light on the current critical situation in their country. (“Washa Tala” means “Light the lamp” in the Kiswahili language of the DRC).

Mathilde Muhindo Mwamini (left) has dedicated her life to empowering women to overcome discrimination, sexual exploitation, poverty and conflict in this central African country called the “rape capitol of the world.” Olun Kamitatu (2nd from right) works with Church partners to promote policies by governments and mining companies to insure that resource wealth benefits the poor and is not used to fuel conflict. Their talk was sponsored by the University partnership with Catholic Relief Services and The Center for Global and Public Health in the College of Nursing. Joining the women from the DRC were the Center’s director Kim Connolly, MPH, BSN, RN who is also a clinical assistant professor; Suzanne Toton, EdD, associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Maureen McCullough, the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic regional director of CRS.

For more information on Catholic Relief Services, visit

Alumna delivers a punch to pediatric cancer

Lauren Saltzburg, ’09 B.S.N., R.N. presents a $500 check and championship belt to the winners of the Gloves for Love Baggo tournament that raised $8000 for CHOP’s Cancer Center.

For Lauren Saltzburg ’09 B.S.N., R.N., her pediatric rotation on the oncology unit at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) lasted more than a few months. The impact of seeing such young people fighting a potentially lethal disease stayed with her. Not one to walk away from a challenge, she decided to go beyond patient care and in November of 2009 used the “fight” concept represented in boxing gloves to create the Gloves for Love Pediatric Cancer Foundation (, a nonprofit group to “knock out pediatric cancer.” The next step for the Bryn Mawr, Pa. resident was to raise money for the Cancer Center at CHOP, the hospital where she is now employed as a nurse on the neurology unit.

Saltzburg is passionate about helping children in her career. “Knowing that cancer-related deaths are the number one cause of death by disease in children under the age of 14 promptly motivated me to want to help these families,” she explains. “The thought that children have to spend their summers, holidays, and birthdays in hospital rooms instead of at home with their families and friends is a primary reason I want to help this population as well.”

July 17, 2010 was the big day Saltzburg had organized in her hometown of Stone Harbor, N.J. She targeted a goal of at least $8000 for the Cancer Center which she reached through the help of numerous volunteers who ran a Baggo (bean bag toss) tournament she developed. She deliberately chose a game which people of any age could play and expanded the event with food, drink, silent auction donations and a post-event party. She reached her financial goal with all proceeds going to CHOP.

Saltzburg credits her Villanova Nursing education for developing within her the needed perspective to create Gloves for Love. “I was taught exceptional time management and leadership skills while at Villanova and this allowed me to segue into the workplace, while balancing other activities as well,” she offers. “The emphasis that was placed in our education to always look at the big picture and to assess each situation from ‘outside the box’ translated into my everyday life,” says Saltzburg, “I was able to develop this non-profit, always looking at the big picture and keeping my eye on the ultimate goal (fighting cancer).”

For the future, Saltzburg’s hope is to continue to hold charitable events in the South Jersey, Philadelphia, and Main Line regions. “I want Gloves for Love to grow and become a prominent cause, especially in our Villanova community, as I continue to work with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia,” she says. Saltzburg looks forward to getting Villanovans involved with her organization, perhaps joining with the College of Nursing’s chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania, as she moves closer towards knocking out pediatric cancer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Essential first steps to improve rural health in Nicaragua

Student-faculty collaboration enhances multidisciplinary project

No one understands that “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step” better than Elizabeth Keech, PhD, RN and Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, RN. Both are assistant professors at Villanova University College of Nursing and are passionate about helping the underserved people of Waslala, Nicaragua access and receive appropriate health care. Their steps on a recent week-long visit in May included carefully taken ones as they trekked through mountainous terrain and waded across a river during rainy season. Why? They and four nursing students were taking another first step, assessing the specific needs of CHW (community health workers) for a collaborative project “Improved Rural Health Care Through Low-cost Telecommunication in Waslala, Nicaragua.”

The nurses are working with faculty and students from the College of Engineering and Villanova School of Business. Using inexpensive cell phone text messaging capability, the nurses and engineers will be working with CHWs and licensed health care providers in Waslala to transmit health information from rural villages to the small community hospital in the town. Their business colleagues are investigating business opportunities created by the introduction of the new technology. The nurses and engineers are building on the presence they have maintained in Waslala for several years promoting health and working towards a safe water supply.

Because of lack of infrastructure and health care providers, as well as the distance from the hospital, those in the rural communities often do not receive health care in a timely manner. This project will connect the CHWs with licensed health care providers to provide “real time” care and information. Through text messaging from the CHW and a clinical algorithm system, patients with conditions such as high blood pressure will be flagged for review by a licensed provider at the hospital who can direct the on-site CHW to treat the patient or bring him in for care. The CHW can also text distant pharmacies for medications as needed which can then be delivered to the patient.

Dr. McDermott-Levy conducted CHW interviews for a qualitative study, with senior nursing student Katie Wetherby and the translation assistance of student Fruna Lara, a nurse from Venezuela who is completing her bachelor of science in nursing degree at Villanova. They were identifying the learning needs of the CHWs, as well as their understanding of the health issues of their region, to help support this and future programs. “I was impressed with the under-resourced community health workers’ ability to provide appropriate care with the available resources given their education, knowledge of pathophysiology, and lack of references and diagnostic tools,” says Dr. McDermott-Levy of the care provided in these highly cohesive communities. Two other seniors, Becky LaMarca and Caitlin Krenek helped conduct or observed the interviews. The nurses also shadowed a CHW overnight in her home where she treated several children and adults who had burns or infections. In addition, they conducted a focus group with 14 CHWs and, along with campus colleagues, met with the medical director of the Waslala hospital, priests, local officials and the Director of the School of Public Health in the National University, Managua to gain support and collect more information.

Becky is doing an independent study working with the faculty to create the algorithm for child growth and development so that data can be recorded in Waslala. Caitlin is collaborating with Dr. Keech to determine outcome measures for the project—a difficult task in an environment where data such as births and deaths are not consistently and broadly captured. They first need to build that foundation of health records before comparisons can be made as the project progresses. “The need is really desperate,” says Dr. Keech, describing why she is involved. “Those who live in the rural areas of Nicaragua just don’t have access for emergent health problems or for those that can be managed without a trip to the hospital by getting a consultation via the cellular technology.” The group plans to return to Nicaragua in the fall semester to begin the pilot phase of the project. Dr. Keech summarizes how essential their work is to the future health of the Waslala community, “If the people could only make a phone call…”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Changes in South Africa

A young girl at St. Leo's school demonstrates tooth brushing technique she learned from Villanova nursing students Lindsey Waters and Christina Trunzo. The students donated a new toothbrush to each of the 685 first through seventh grade students at St. Leo's.

Young boys at St. Theresa's Home for Children hold their health screening record created by faculty Prof. Elise Pizzi, MSN, CRNP and used this year during screenings performed by faculty and students. They assessed 66 children.

A young boy practices his handwashing technique taught by the nursing students.

Meghan Barowski shows a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff to a boy who... ...hears his heart sounds for the first time.

Dr. Elizabeth Blunt, a family nurse practitioner, examines a boy at St. Theresa's Home for Children.

Dr. Elizabeth Blunt (left) and Dr. Fran Keen flank the Villanova nursing students in Durban.

Dr. Blunt and students with the four Augustinian sisters with whom they lived while in Durban. The yellow shirts relate to World Cup soccer in South Africa.

Since 2008, Villanova Nursing faculty have been accompanying students who are participating in the International Nursing elective to Durban, South Africa each May. The nursing students, partially supported with Connelly-Delouvrier International Nursing Scholarships, learn about the health care system and Zulu culture in South Africa as well as the impact of poverty and the former apartheid system on the community. They see young and old ravaged by the effects of HIV/AIDS and new definitions of “family” as school-aged orphans or grandmothers (“go-gos”) run households. The impact of the experience? Change—in both the students and those for whom they provided care.

“I bring back a new passion for helping the poor and marginalized communities in the U.S.,” says Alyssa Canino who traveled to Durban with seven other students from May 8 to 23, 2010. She reflected on the eagerness of the children in St. Theresa’s Home for Children. These children, aged five to ten, wanted to learn the hand washing and tooth brushing skills taught by the Villanova nursing students and reveled in the nurses’ encouraging words during return demonstrations. Canino, who learned Zulu phrases to communicate with the younger children and aspires to be a pediatric nurse practitioner, notes “Working with the Zulu children was the most rewarding aspect of my experience in Durban.” Similar teaching was done at St. Leo’s school where nearly 700 students were provided with new toothbrushes by the Villanova nursing students.

The students toured St. Mary’s Hospital and went to area clinic sites reached by its mobile vans used for voluntary HIV/AIDS testing and counseling. They also helped with patient care at 1000 Hills Community Center and the Hillcrest Respite Center for HIV/AIDS patients. For Ali Spicer, “The packed clinics, the babies and people in Hillcrest made the numbers real, unmistakable.” The senior says, “With each site visited, each child or go-go I came in contact with, it became increasingly clear that there are two main components in terms of the spread of HIV and the health consequences of such an illness: the issues of education and sustainability.” The sentiment is echoed by Christina Trunzo, noting the critical need for early health teaching after seeing children with decaying teeth due to lack of education about mouth care. She values “heath education from personal hygiene to more serious topics such as sexual development.”

Students assisted Frances Keen, DNSc, RN, assistant dean and director of the Undergraduate Program with health screenings at St. Theresa’s as colleague Elizabeth Blunt, PhD, CRNP, coordinator of the nurse practitioner programs, completed more complex physical exams on each of the 66 boys evaluated. The physical exams for the boys had started two years ago when the same faculty initially visited the Home. They documented assessment data on health screening forms developed by Assistant Professor Elise Pizzi, MSN, CRNP for a visit in 2009 as there were previously only very basic records.

A Villanova nursing group will return to Durban in May 2011, continuing the health screenings, HIV/AIDS care, health promotion and human connections that are expanding the professional and personal horizons of the new nurses.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Building relationships is foundation for health in Peru

Violet Uttaro checks the blood glucose level of a man in a Chulucanas community center.

Senior Tara Martin listens to the breath sounds of an elderly woman in Peru during a home visit.

Students provide health promotion information in Spanish to members of the Chulucanas community.

For the 11th consecutive year, Villanova Nursing students and faculty have promoted health in Chulucanas, Peru as part of the senior level health promotion clinical practicum option in March. Led by faculty Elise Pizzi, MSN, CRNP, assistant professor and Karen McKenna, MSN, RN, clinical assistant professor, the group of eight students and two translators toured a hospital and made home visits in Chulucanas.

The nursing students, partially supported as Connelly-Delouvrier International Scholars, researched, developed and translated into Spanish multiple educational programs for local residents and lay health promoters in three parishes in the Diocese of Chulucanas. They addressed such topics as type 2 diabetes management; sexual development; and women’s health issues including fitness, osteoporosis, nutrition, self breast exams, thyroid disease and high blood pressure. At their teaching sessions, the students used glucometers to test more than 150 people for high blood glucose levels since diabetes is so prevalent in the community. They later donated 12 glucometers to the parishes and Diocesan center, along with funds they had raised which went towards the care of a brother and sister with diabetes and a woman with ovarian cancer who could not afford pain medication.

Additionally, the students educated the community on environmental issues. They focused on food safety, clean water, waste disposal, plastics, the hazards of burning plastics, the negative effects of smoke from poorly vented stoves and pest control. They even created fly traps using discarded plastic bottles. “The students were shocked that the residents and health promoters took notes and asked questions” during education sessions, says Prof. Pizzi. Prof. McKenna concurs, “It’s very affirming. The education is important.”

A group of nursing students and faculty will return to Peru next March to continue the health promotion progress made by the 2010 nurses.

Villanova’s College of Nursing Welcomes Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars

Ten Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Careers in Nursing scholars enjoy their first day on Villanova’s campus on May 20th before beginning classes in the second-degree accelerated nursing program. They are (L to R) Flower Habte, Lou Pagnoni, Dorris Ogbuehi, Emily Lang, Gregory Calucci, Mona Akhlaghi, Anthony Ruffo, Jordona Ndon, Shawn Ellison, and Lauren Dornin.

Villanova University College of Nursing has welcomed ten Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) scholars to campus to begin the 14-month second-degree accelerated program –called BSNExpress—for adult learners who are earning their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree.

The NCIN Scholarship Program, initiated in 2008, was developed to help alleviate the shortage of nurses and increase diversity in the workforce. The grants provide scholarships to college graduates from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds who are transitioning into nursing in an accelerated BSN program.

The College received a grant of $100,000 to award scholarships to ten students who met the criteria consistent with the goals of the NCIN program. Four men and six women who were admitted into the class beginning May 2010 received the scholarships, and as part of their program, a Leadership Development Plan has been established to facilitate successful transitioning into the nursing profession and to foster leadership development for each RWJF NCIN Scholar.

“The plan provides support and advocacy in the areas of academics, professional development, community involvement and mentoring,” said BSNExpress Program Coordinator Maryanne Lieb, MSN, RN. “Based on personal experience and professional goals, the Scholars are mentored by nurse leaders who share a mutual interest, and also serve as advisors to prospective students who have applied to the following class,” she continued. All RWJF NCIN Scholars meet monthly for seminar participation, collaboration and open discussion. To support the activities proposed in the Leadership Development Plan, the BSNExpress program received an additional $1,500 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nursing Alumni Association Board receives leadership award

Members of the Nursing Alumni Association board receive the 2010 Leadership Award from the Villanova University Alumni Association (VUAA) on May 7th. Seen here are University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, ’75 A&S, Board Member Patricia Snyder ’84 BSN, President Margaret Hannan ’84 BSN, Vice President Patricia Somers ’74 BSN, ’85 MSN, Immediate Past-president Joanne Gurney ’71 BSN, ’88 MSN, College Liaison Rose O'Driscoll '64 BSN and VUAA President Paul A. Tufano, Esq. '83 '86. Not pictured are Treasurer Michele Damas ’93 BSN, Secretary Barbara Mankey, ’90 BSN, ’95 MSN and College Liaison Ann Barrow McKenzie ’86 BSN, ’91 MSN.

On May 7th, the Villanova University College of Nursing’s Nursing Alumni Association (NAA) Board received the 2010 Leadership Award from the Villanova University Alumni Association (VUAA). The award was presented at the VUAA Luncheon and Recognition Program of the 2010 Volunteer Leaders Conference in the Villanova Room of Connelly Center. The NAA was honored because of its ”superb efforts in strategic planning and instituting new initiatives,” according to the notification letter from VUAA president Paul A. Tufano, Esq. '83 '86. For more information about the NAA, visit .

Friday, May 14, 2010

Senior nursing student uses resources to spearhead pajama purchase for Children’s Hospital

On May 9th, Lauren Ernst, right, a senior Villanova University nursing student, shows a sample of a new collection of children’s pajamas and underwear she presented to Jennifer Molnar, MSN, CRNP for the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) program based in the emergency department of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The team sees the highest number of sexually abused children in the city.

Lauren Ernst, a senior nursing student at Villanova University College of Nursing, is a leader who acts quickly and with positive impact. Ernst, from West Hempstead, N.Y., was in her pediatric clinical practicum at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in the fall of 2009 when she had a conversation with Misty Conlan, MSN, RN, her adjunct faculty for the rotation who also works as a nurse in the emergency department (ED) at CHOP. “She explained that in the ED, children who are sexually abused will come in and then their clothing will be taken away from them for evidence collection, leaving them without underwear or pajama bottoms,” recalls Ernst who reacted immediately when hearing the hospital does not always have a clothing supply to share with the children. Conlan recalls, “She told me about her sorority’s philanthropic theme of child abuse. She asked her sorority to help and raised money.”

“Being a nursing student and a Kappa Delta, I saw that this was a way we could make a difference for the community around us and decided to take on this project,” explains Ernst. Conlan connected her to colleague Jennifer Molnar, MSN, CRNP in the ED who is coordinator for the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) program which began 18 months ago. Molnar says the multidisciplinary SART cares for children from infancy to their 16th birthday. The team sees a child daily who has sexual concerns and one every day three days who has been the victim of an acute sexual assault within the past 72 hours. Most patients are girls of all ages—recently an eight month old infant was among those who had been assaulted.

Molnar is grateful for the leadership of Ernst who was executive vice president of the Panhellenic Council for two years and a member of Kappa Delta for the past four years. At Ernst’s request, the sorority held a bake sale and raised $200. “With that we primarily focused on the need for underwear and were able to purchase over 250 pairs of underwear and about 10 pairs of pajamas,” says Ernst. She donated them to CHOP’s Molnar on May 9th, the last day of her leadership practicum at the hospital.

Ernst is working with Kappa Delta to develop this into an annual or biannual donation. “What Lauren is doing and has done for the vulnerable and victimized children of abuse and rape is amazing,” says course leader Elizabeth Burgess Dowdell, PhD, CRNP, associate professor who specializes in pediatrics and victimized populations. Ernst looks forward to starting her professional nursing career in pediatrics after her May 16th graduation from Villanova.

For more information on the SART program at CHOP, contact Jennifer Molnar, MSN, CRNP, coordinator, at

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Villanova Nursing students co-sponsor health fair with Penn Care at Home

Seven senior nursing students from the Villanova University College of Nursing developed a health fair in collaboration with Penn Care at Home on April 21st. Held at University Square at 3901 Market St. in Philadelphia—a vertical community with over 500 residents— the topics were those of interest to residents who are elderly or have disabilities. Christine Bossone, MSN, RN, HHCNS-BC, clinical educator, Penn Care at Home, a ’67 B.S.N. alumna from the College of Nursing, collaborated with the Villanova nursing students (left to right) Christine Schirripa, Sarah Tuperan, Lindsay Dudek, Eboni Wesley, LaTrina Bailey, Stephanie Villegas-Hoag and Danielle Godino.

The students, participating in their home health clinical practicum, were advised by Associate Professor Mary Pickett, Ph.D, R.N. Their stations included blood pressure screening and education, the importance of summer hydration, DASH diet, and reading food labels for sodium and portion size. Additionally the students demonstrated upper body armchair exercises with water bottle weights.

Danielle Godino and Eboni Wesley listen to the concerns of a resident as Stephanie Villegas-Hoag checks her blood pressure.

LaTrina Bailey assesses the heart rate and rhythm of a University Square resident.

Christina Schirripa teaches a resident about food labels along with Lindsay Dudek.

Sarah Tuparan demonstrates upper body exercises to University Square residents.

Penn Care at Home nurse Marion Perry (left), seen here with seniors Lindsay Dudek and Christine Schirripa, generously shared her patients with Villanova Nursing students for home health visits.