Monday, September 26, 2011

It’s all in the numbers: 80 + 225 = 20/20

Graduate nursing student Hannah Thomas tests the depth perception of a Philadelphia first grader while he wears “3D” glasses that should enable him to identify raised shapes hidden in blocks.

College of Nursing students have a t-shirt that says “Villanova Nurses” on the front and on the back “Cover your mouth. Wash your hands. Get your sleep. Take your vitamins. We’ll take care of the rest.” They proved their ability to have an impact on health when they mobilized for a September 23rd screening blitz at a South Philadelphia elementary school as part of the University’s 2011 Day of Service.

Eighty undergraduate, graduate and faculty volunteers headed to the school—one where the majority of families live below the poverty line. Awaiting their arrival were 1,000 children, a welcoming principal and staff, and one talented nurse practitioner. The goal? Screen as many of the youngest students as possible to identify potential vision and growth and development issues early in the school year so they can be addressed in time to have a positive, productive academic experience.

After a brief orientation, the school cafeteria buzzed with the efficiency of a beehive as students broke up into groups and in about two hours, screened over 225 Kindergarten and first grade students (the school’s well-regarded nurse practitioner says he would have needed over two months given his workload). The Villanova Nurses assessed the youngsters’ height and weight as well as near vision, distance vision, color vision and depth perception.

Another nursing student group visited eight Kindergarten and first grade classrooms and gave energetic health presentations featuring songs about learning and hand washing and a craft project to reinforce the topic for a lifelong healthy habit.

The vision screenings will have immediate results. For example, teachers said they would be re-configuring classroom seating so that children with impaired vision are closer to the front of the room while waiting for their follow up assessments. The screening identified enough children so that the Philadelphia Eagles' Flight for Sight van will be coming to the school to provide for the children further evaluation, free eyeglasses and, as needed, referrals for continuing treatment.

The College of Nursing has an ongoing relationship with the school. Associate Professor Carol Toussie Weingarten, PhD, RN, ANEF each spring has a group of senior nursing students there for their health promotion clinical practicum. She is also the advisor of the Villanova Chapter of the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP) and works with students on volunteer projects at the school. This fall screening was organized by student leaders including SNAP President Megan Copel, Vice Presidents Brittany Beckmann and Hillary Dutton, and Coordinator Sarah Gross who worked long hours to ensure success.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Promoting medication safety with new simulation technology

Junior nursing student Jessica Lee scans a simulation medication as she uses a new medication dispensing cabinet in a clinical simulation. The technology, in addition to the nurse’s knowledge, promotes patient safety and is designed to decrease the occurrence of drug errors in a clinical setting.

Nothing replaces the “six rights” that nursing students learn as part of medication administration techniques—the right patient, drug, dose, route, time and documentation, plus the correct reason for its delivery. These checks are done before administering any medication to prevent potentially lethal drug errors. While the nurse’s clinical reasoning remains critical, technology also plays a role in safety today.

A major thrust of The Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goals of 2007 includes the mandate for hospitals to implement a plan for executing a bar-code technology and medication delivery system. This “point of care” solution helps to automate medication administration including validation of the six rights of medication administration. Hospitals have invested in medication dispensing cabinets which store not only the day’s medication for a patient but also the prescriber’s orders and related drug information such as allergies that have an impact on patient safety.

The Learning Resource Center (LRC) at the College of Nursing has invested in patient safety as well, purchasing five medication dispensing cabinets for its clinical simulation labs. Students who are learning about drug administration, or are soon to start their clinical practica in acute care settings, benefit from hands-on practice with this technology. “Because medication safety procedures are critical to overall patient safety goals, the integration of these advanced medication systems allow faculty to provide more realistic and effective medication administration experiences in the clinical simulation lab,” says LRC Director Colleen Meakim, MSN, RN.

Each mobile workstation has a 15” touch screen with a Windows based operating system, barcode scanner and 24 drawers for medications, plus a cabinet for bulks supplies such as those required for intravenous therapy. It also includes a supply of Demo-Dose medications, prepackaged simulation drugs with accurate labels and barcodes just as the students would see in the clinical setting.

Students learn the principles of safe medication administration in the sophomore year followed by a more detailed experience in administering multiple types of medications and use of various routes of administration starting in the junior year. Student Jessica Lee used the new technology early in the semester before starting her medical-surgical clinical practicum at an area hospital. “Practicing on the med carts in lab helped me to think critically while in clinical,” says the junior from Albany, N.Y. She and her clinical group, guided by faculty, participated in medication administration simulation scenarios where the nursing students read their patient’s history and current status and check their patient’s orders for the shift. They log into the workstation, select their patient and the drug to be given, run through a series of checks and scan the drug barcode before administering the drug. The system alerts them to potential problems, such as allergies or an incorrect drug selection, thereby protecting the patient.

Friday, September 9, 2011

How does your garden grow?

Andrea Baxter, Lorna Brod, Gary Yam and Nancy Miao, second degree BSN students from the College of Nursing, assisted Philadelphia senior citizens this summer in growing a garden for health. “The community garden project was a great way to keep the neighborhood active and healthy,” says Yam.

A garden is a healthful thing, but as weekend warriors know, there can be hazards. Thanks to College of Nursing students at Villanova, there are Asian and African-American senior citizens who feel only the joy of their community garden in Philadelphia’s Logan section.

During the summer, students from the BSN program for adults with a college degree in another field worked with Assistant Professor Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, RN and the Nationalities Services Center (NSC) for their health promotion practicum. The 90 year old non-profit NSC provides social, educational and legal services to immigrants and refugees in the Greater Philadelphia area.

The garden is a project of the NSC so that the senior residents can participate in a meaningful outdoor activity of growing vegetables. Tara Schartzendruber-Landis, the Center’s Director, was instrumental in starting the garden and obtaining crops indigenous to the homelands of the immigrant senior citizens. Many of the Asian seniors were farmers in their home countries. They grow the vegetables to have at home, though there is also a garden for NSC to provide fresh produce for the Center’s lunches.

The nursing students spent time in the garden, and spoke with the seniors and NSC staff to determine what the greatest educational need was related to the garden. They then prioritized topics of importance. The students developed instructional materials related to body mechanics, healthy practices while gardening, nutritional choices of food grown, and the psychological benefits of gardening. The healthy practices extended to attention to sustainability with composting nearby and no pesticides were used. Springing forth from the garden were tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, radishes, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, cucumber, zucchini and herbs.

Student Gary Yam recommends that community leaders develop their own gardening projects. He notes, “The community garden provided the elderly population with an inexpensive source of healthy food, and exposure to healthy amounts of sunlight, while promoting outdoor exercise and active community participation.”

Friday, September 2, 2011

Telling an untold story

Dr. Carol Weingarten, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany, has volunteered nearly 300 volunteer hours over the last three summers working with ambulatory ill and wounded troops. She also initiated a nursing journalism project to tell the stories behind the excellence at LRMC.

Nursing students make cards for wounded troops at LRMC at a July 14th SNAP meeting and pizza party.

Summer 2011 found College of Nursing Associate Professor Carol Toussie Weingarten, PhD, RN, ANEF and her husband, Michael S. Weingarten, MD, MBA, FACS, a VSB alumnus, returning for their third annual two-week volunteer session at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. U. S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Reservists and National Guard serve together at LRMC (pronounced "larm-see"), the largest American military hospital outside the United States.

While Dr. Michael Weingarten served as a volunteer civilian vascular surgeon with the Combat Casualty Program, sponsored by the American Red Cross, caring for wounded American and Coalition troops airlifted from "down range" locations like Afghanistan and Iraq, Dr. Carol Weingarten was again a civilian volunteer working with ambulatory ill and wounded troops through the Chaplains' Wounded Warrior Ministry projects. She brought with her unique cards with sentiments of support and gratitude created by nursing students in the College’s accelerated second degree BSN program who are members of the Villanova Chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP) for which Dr. Weingarten is advisor. The cards are a welcome addition to the Wounded Warrior project and the nearly 300 volunteer hours she has logged at LRMC.

The professionalism of the staff and the excellent care that Dr. Weingarten saw in different areas of the hospital during her 2009 visit inspired nursing journalism projects in 2010 and in 2011. “You see with ‘nursing eyes’ wherever you are,” she notes. Her interviews with military and civilian staff nurses and the nurse leaders of LRMC have already resulted in publications and presentations featuring the extraordinary individuals who ensure excellence in "an atmosphere of transition and diversity." “The articles are a way -- my way--of introducing other nurses to some extraordinary people who work in an extraordinary place,” she explains. This year’s profiles will be published in state- and international-level nursing journals, earning wide dissemination. Dr. Weingarten wishes that time would allow an even broader and deeper dive into each person’s fascinating story of nursing, courage and service, saying “I could easily write a book on each one.”

Nurse anesthesia students earn national awards

College of Nursing graduate nurse anesthesia students Lena Congo, Darolyn Milburn, Christopher Scott, Rachel Atkinson, Amanda Stewart and Jenna Fiorella-Bufkin bring Wildcat pride to the celebration of their national awards recognizing their superior anesthesia knowledge and public relations skills at the at the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists 78th Annual Meeting in Boston in August.

For the College of Nursing’s graduate nurse anesthesia students, it’s not who you know, but what you know…and how you promote it…that makes them recent winners at the national level.

Students from the rigorous 27-month program attended the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) 78th Annual Meeting in Boston in August. Not only did they expand their professional knowledge in their new specialty and network with colleagues from around the nation, they also came away with two awards.

The Villanova nurse anesthesia students won the AANA PR award for best public relations effort by an individual, small group, organization, or company not affiliated with a state association. The honor recognized their stellar efforts in running and promoting a highly successful food drive in January during Nurse Anesthetist Week that brought in nearly a ton of food to restock Philabundance, the Philadelphia region’s largest hunger relief organization.

Additionally, student Christopher Scott was the Villanova representative to one of the six AANA College Bowl teams who successfully competed in answering anesthesia-related questions to win the competition. His team also beat a team of nurse anesthetists.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Health Disparities - September 27th

The College of Nursing invites the community to attend “Health Disparities” with Calvin B. Johnson, MD, MPH on Tuesday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Driscoll Hall Auditorium.

Health disparities refer to differences between groups of people in terms of how frequently a disease affects a group, how many people get sick, or how often the disease causes death.

Dr. Johnson is formerly Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for the Temple University Health System in Philadelphia. He is currently President of Altre Strategic Solutions Group. With a background including practice, service and government combined with national leadership roles, he brings a unique perspective to the conversation on communities and health disparities.

The lecture is free and is part of the College of Nursing’s 17th Annual Health and Human Values Lecture Series: Promoting Dignity through Global and Public Health.