Talking to patients and their families about death is difficult, even for experienced health care professionals, but it’s an essential skill. The University of Houston (UH) College of Nursing is attempting to address the limited clinical opportunities for nursing students to practice palliative care and end-of-life conversations by using a high-fidelity mannequin to simulate these challenging conversations.
The high-fidelity mannequin is funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Nursing Innovation Grant Program. They believe the specialized training is a first-of-its-kind innovation to be used by collegiate nursing programs.
Cheryl Brohard, assistant professor and project director at UH, tells Eurekalert.org, “Nurses will tell you they don’t feel confident or competent with this subject matter. That’s an issue. With this addition to our simulation lab, we’re trying to make the students as comfortable as possible with a challenging but necessary situation.”
The female mannequin is nicknamed “Julia” and programmed to breathe, blink, and simulate medical conditions. A nearby room is equipped with video and audio feed of the simulation lab where a faculty member plays the role of the patient, allowing students to respond and watch their interactions later. Students will be exposed to various scenarios including a patient coming to terms with a recent diagnosis, advanced care planning, and deteriorating health.
To learn more about the University of Houston’s use of a high-fidelity mannequin for practicing palliative care and end-of-life care conversations, visit here.
Hurricane Harvey made its first landfall on the southeast coast of Texas Friday evening as a Category 4 storm and continued to bring devastating amounts of rain to the state throughout the weekend. Many cities in the hurricane’s main path ordered evacuations ahead of the storm but Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country, was unprepared for the rain and flooding which left countless residents trapped in their homes.
The health care infrastructure in Houston has since found itself gridlocked by the hurricane. With ambulances unable to travel in floodwaters and helicopters grounded by the high winds, many hospitals struggled to treat storm victims throughout the weekend.
“We can be dry and open but if you can’t deliver patients to the medical center, that’s our biggest concern.”
Thanks to required hospital engineering improvements following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Tropical Storm Allison which damaged southeast Texas in 2001, most major hospitals in Houston were able to protect themselves against the flooding. This allowed them to continue operating throughout the storm and protect patients already inside, but hospitals were left cut off from patients trying to reach them. William McKeon, president and chief executive at Texas Medical Center in Houston, tells The New York Times, “We can be dry and open but if you can’t deliver patients to the medical center, that’s our biggest concern.”
Law enforcement officials have begun identifying safe routes to hospitals and sharing them with emergency medical service agencies to coordinate the rescue of hurricane victims. This coordination and teamwork seen during Hurricane Harvey shows how healthcare networks have learned from other incidents and put practices in place to prevent hardships experienced during previous storms. To learn more about Houston’s hospital efforts to treat storm victims of Hurricane Harvey, visit here.
The University of Texas at Austin has scheduled renovations for its School of Nursing to take place this summer. The 1970s-era building houses old classrooms and outdated technologies that fail to match the nursing school’s reputation for advanced academics and cutting-edge research. With funding for the $3.3 million project now in place, UT Austin is ready to begin renovations.
Rob Bacchus, director of development for the School of Nursing, tells DailyTexanOnline.com, “This renovation will allow for more dynamic and flexible group work.” Inefficient and outdated learning spaces and technologies hinder students and teachers from learning and teaching at their full capability, which led the school to begin its plan for upgrading in 2014. Last December, the St. David’s Foundation awarded a $950,000 grant which set the project in motion for this summer.
Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of the School of Nursing, says, “With this grant, we intend to update classrooms so that the latest innovative teaching techniques can be used and students can participate in active learning and team-building activities.” Classrooms are expected to be ready for the fall semester, leading to better student performance and satisfaction.
To learn more about UT Austin’s new School of Nursing renovations, visit here.
Earlier this month, the Texas A&M Health and Science Center held an event called Disaster Day, a mass casualty simulation to help prepare nursing students and other health science students for their future careers. The simulation was held in a gymnasium filled with approximately 400 volunteer victims affected by a tornado that touched down near Houston.
Matt Ward, a student leader for Disaster Day, tells TheBatt.com, “We have the largest simulation in the nation for running a disaster day. We have college of nursing, medicine, pharmacy, veterinary staff and biomedical sciences all here today. It’s important to get all of those communities together, because we have over 300 students on staff to help the patients that are here.”
As approximately 300 students entered the gymnasium, they were instructed to mark victims with green (not critical), yellow (need care), red (critical), or black (deceased) triage tags to determine their necessary level of care. The students were faced with a number of simulated emergencies from birthing mothers and mentally ill victims to lacerations, broken bones, and tree branches lodged in bodies. Simulation conditions included that all nearby hospitals were at full capacity so all medical work had to be completed on site.
College of Nursing Assistant Professor Alison Pittman tells TheBatt.com, “There are two nurses assigned to each row in the disaster and there is one provider assigned to each row. So they gave to triage their patients and decide who needs to be treated first, second, third.” The simulation provided an opportunity for students to experience a fast-paced emergency situation to prepare for potential catastrophes they might experience in their medical career.
To learn more about Texas A&M’s Disaster Day mass casualty simulation training, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Darinisha Turner, a senior nursing student at the University of Texas at Arlington where she promotes work-life balance in her peers. Turner wanted to spend her time as an undergraduate nursing student proving wrong the statement that, “You can’t be in nursing school and have a social life.” She has learned how to pursue her love for the health care field while also staying involved on campus, something she hopes to help other students learn how to do.
While pursuing her degree, Turner also served as a member and journalist for the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, a mentor for upcoming freshmen at the Center for African American Studies, and a member of the Black Student Nurses Association. Turner has also secured a job at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit where she currently works as a patient care technician. For Turner, a typical day includes a 12-hour clinical, preparing sorority events, and trying to find time to eat and sleep.
Turner’s school and social schedule certainly keeps her busy, but while she understands the importance of education to find a successful career path, she also believes everyone should have some balance. Turner tells TheShorthorn.com, “Having a balance between school and being involved on campus is extremely important to me.” The sorority is important to Turner because it allows her to be involved in something bigger than herself and to serve as a positive role model while changing the community around her.
While her time as a student is coming to a close, Turner is also ready to begin her career in a few months. She tells TheShorthorn.com, “I fell in love with the health care field in high school, and having the opportunity to live my dream in a couple of months is worthwhile.” Turner’s love for promoting a healthy balance of school and social activities will leave an impact on many of her peers as she heads into graduation.
To learn more about Darinisha Turner and her time as an undergraduate student at UT Arlington, visit here.
Lori A. Spies, PhD, RN, assistant professor in the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) recently received a 2017-18 Fulbright Global Scholar Award. Spies’ work specializes in global health and building capacity in health care providers. Her colleagues at Baylor are immensely proud of her prestigious recognition and the research and global health contributions she makes to the university. Spies tells Baylor.edu:
“I am thrilled to have been selected to receive the Global Fulbright. The award will allow me the amazing opportunity to teach and implement research in three countries. I look forward to collaborating with health care providers in India, Vietnam, and Zambia to research best education practices in noncommunicable diseases.”
With a background in teaching global health and international clinical courses to graduate students for over a decade, Spies’ Fulbright award is well deserved. Spies is the co-founder of the North Texas African Health Initiative, a past president of the North Texas Nurse Practitioners, and she serves on the practice committee for the International Council of Nurses Advanced Practice Nursing Network. Her international work includes travel to Uganda to build nurse leadership and research capacity; participation in faculty and nurse development in Ethiopia, India, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia; and refugee outreach in Myanmar.
The Fulbright Program is a government international educational exchange program sponsored by the US Department of State. Since its founding in 1946, over 370,000 award recipients from 180 countries have been given the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.