GWU Receives 2.5 Million for Veterans’ BSN Aid Program

GWU Receives 2.5 Million for Veterans’ BSN Aid Program

The George Washington University School of Nursing has just received the largest philanthropic gift in the school’s history. Through the William and Joanne Conway Transitioning Warriors Nursing Scholars Initiative, $2.5 million in financial aid is being made available to help eligible military veterans working toward a BSN degree. The gift is expected to support more than 65 students over the next five years.

Donors William Conway, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, and his wife Joanne are long-time supporters of nursing education. School of Nursing Dean Pamela Jeffries commented, “The Conways’ commitment to our military veterans is unwavering, and so is ours at the GW School of Nursing. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, it’s gifts like these that enable us to grow our veteran student population and provide the resources they need to succeed.”

The aid program will be welcomed by veterans. Despite the assistance available through military benefits such as the GI Bill, many vets still find it a challenge to support themselves and their families when they re-enter the civilian world and attempt to pursue a degree. The Conways are happy to offer a helping hand. “The Transitioning Warriors Nursing Scholars Initiative is designed to reward the brave men and women of our armed forces who seek to continue their service to our country as civilian nurses,” Mr. Conway stated. GWU President Thomas LeBlanc responded, “We are grateful to the Conways for enabling this investment when our nation’s nursing workforce and veterans need it most.”

Founded 10 years ago, the George Washington University School of Nursing is currently the sixth ranked school in the US News and World Report assessment of online graduate nursing programs. The gift was presented in May, while the school was celebrating its 10th anniversary.

For further details on this story, visit GWToday at the University website.

House Hearing: More Research Needed on Health Effects of Cannabis

House Hearing: More Research Needed on Health Effects of Cannabis

WASHINGTON — Healthcare providers don’t know enough about cannabis to talk with patients about the potential risks and benefits, witnesses said at a mid-January House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing.

“We need to have much more education with respect to how the use of marijuana products can negatively impact or help someone,” said Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “The problem is we do not have sufficient evidence that could help us mount those programs in a way that’s actually required. At this point, I don’t feel the evidence is sufficient to say, ‘We’re going to recommend that this product should be used by this patient.'” For example, elderly patients who take marijuana-containing products may be on a lot of other medications, and little is known about potential interactions between marijuana and prescription drugs. “So I do believe in the importance of expanding our knowledge so we can develop educational training programs that are based on knowledge, not on anecdote.”

Making it Easier to Research Cannabis

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) noted that a 2015 survey of healthcare providers concluded that the providers “perceive a knowledge gap related to cannabis dosing, treatment plans, and different areas related to cannabis products, so providers themselves realize the need for research and expertise to be developed in this area.”

The hearing was held to discuss six bills on cannabis, several of which were aimed at making it easier for researchers to obtain cannabis for research purposes. Currently, the only cannabis legally available for research comes from a single farm housed at the University of Mississippi, and researchers who want to use it must get permission from three agencies: the FDA, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the NIH. “We need to figure out a way to take advantage of different producers of cannabis plants to evaluate the diversity of products out there, as opposed to limiting us to the Mississippi farm,” said Volkow.

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) agreed. “The sad part is we’re not testing the right stuff,” he said. “I fail to understand why we have one bloody facility that is the sole nexus for research and analysis of CBD [cannabidiol] products. It seems to me we ought to be testing products on the marketplace.” Subcommittee chairman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) agreed. “I don’t understand why the three agencies before us can’t get this done,” she said, referring to NIDA, the FDA, and the DEA, which all had officials testifying at the hearing.

The Cannabis Research “Catch-22”

Several subcommittee members expressed frustration over what they called the “Catch 22” problem that cannabis researchers face. “They can’t conduct cannabis research until they can show cannabis has a medical use, but they can’t demonstrate cannabis has a medical use until they conduct research. It doesn’t make sense,” said Eshoo.

“You’ve got to help us figure out how we’re going to get out of this Catch 22,” Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said to the witnesses at the hearing. “This lack of knowledge poses a public health risk.”

One issue with conducting research on marijuana is its classification as a Schedule 1 drug; these are substances deemed to have no medical value and have a high potential for abuse, and their availability is highly restricted. Several bills the subcommittee is considering, including the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, and the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, would either downgrade marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 2 drug, which has fewer restrictions, or remove it from the drug schedule altogether.

Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Texas), the subcommittee’s ranking member, said the latter “is going too far,” adding that “using our congressional authority to override this may be a dangerous move, especially given the lack of research.”

So far, only one marijuana-related drug has been approved by the FDA: Epidiolex, which contains cannabidiol, was approved in June 2018 for treating a rare seizure disorder in patients ages 2 and over.

Diverse Testimony from Both Sides of the Aisle

Both the witnesses and the subcommittee members seemed divided on marijuana’s potential harms and benefits for patients. Volkow mentioned research showing that cannabis exposure during pregnancy was associated with low birthweight and preterm delivery, and added that it was also linked with episodes of psychosis. She also said that there was some evidence that cannabis may be useful in treating spasticity, multiple sclerosis, and pain, “but otherwise there is little benefit for other indications for which patients are using it.”

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) said that his support of medical marijuana began some years ago when he learned that people were smuggling marijuana into a Virginia hospital to help a terminally ill father who wanted to be feeling well enough to spend time with his 2-year-old son. Years later, when he told that story at a high school town hall, one student raised his hand and said, “They did that for my daddy too.”

“These communities were 20 years apart, 30 years apart, yet doctors were turning a blind eye to allow marijuana to be brought into the hospital because they recognized that for those patients who are dying, that was the only way they would get relief and get the nutrients they needed to spend a little more time with their children,” Griffith said.

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) said he was opposed to efforts to “make any Schedule 1 drug legal without adequate research.” Instead, “we should focus on combating addiction,” he said.

by Joyce Frieden, News Editor, MedPage Today

Originally published in MedPage Today

Climate Change: “Nurses are On the Move”

Climate Change: “Nurses are On the Move”

At the DC Climate Change rally: ANHE, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments at Washington DC climate rally

Just before a series of major climate change rallies were held in cities across the US, the journal Creative Nursing published a special issue on climate change. We spoke with special issue editor Katie Huffling, MS, RN, CNM and contributor/editorial board member Teddie Potter, PhD, RN, FAAN to learn more about climate change as a public health issue, and why so many nurses are attending these rallies and speaking out.

On September 20, the Washington Post interviewed them both as part of a major story on the DC climate strike. The headline was, “Why nurses, America’s most trusted professionals, are demanding ‘climate justice.’” That sounds like as good a starting point as any, so let’s begin by asking…

Why is climate change important to the mission of the health and nursing professions?

TP: In nursing we are charged to create environments for people to be the healthiest individuals and communities that they possibly can be. Climate change threatens that. It threatens our patients and communities on multiple levels. The health impacts of climate change are severe and serious, and they’re happening right now. So that why it is important for us to address this as nurses.

It’s no longer happening in some parts of the globe, or in some geographic areas; it’s happening everywhere. Unfortunately, it tends to have the greatest impact on communities that are already struggling to be healthy. If I am already challenged by being homeless, for instance, not having access to AC or heating can lead to real [health] problems, and we see people with such challenges often suffering worst and first from climate change.

And it’s important to point out that yes, the planet is warming but the impacts are very variable. Places that used to be cool are getting hot; some places that were usually dry are getting very wet. It’s the shift in patterns that has definite health consequences. In California, for instance, you might be more apt as a nurse to be aware of the impact of fires on the air quality affecting individuals and families and people who work outdoors.

But isn’t climate change a political issue? Why should nurses get actively involved?

TP: I hope we have made it very clear that climate change is not a political issue, any more than people having adequate food or clean air should be a political issue. It’s a health issue. And we need all people regardless of their political affiliation to be part of finding solutions and part of finding a healthier future for everyone.

KH: The Lancet has been publishing for the past few years an analysis of climate change and health and they are very clear that climate change is the biggest public health challenge that we face today. It’s a health issue, and the future of our children is at stake.

Are nurses already seeing health issues connected to climate change?

TP: In Minnesota, we’re seeing changes in our vectors. We see more [outbreaks of] Lyme disease and West Nile disease; we see more people affected by flooding and loss of housing and livelihoods related to flooding. Farmers can’t get their crops planted on time [owing to flooding] and they can’t get their crops harvested on time, so we’re seeing impacts in that area. Health care providers need to understand that there are things we need to be considering in order to protect our patients and teach families and to ensure that if a disaster is likely, that people have a plan. For example, we need to ask “What are you going to do when category 4 and 5 hurricanes come into your area?”

KH: One thing I would add is that no matter what type of nursing you do—whatever your patient population is—there’s some way that climate change impacts that population. For example, when you have extreme weather events, and you have renal patients, are they going to be able to get dialysis? Nurses working in that area have been real leaders in working on emergency preparedness. The same goes for oncology nurses—are your patients going to be able to get their cancer treatments in a timely fashion. There are some things when you first think of them, you don’t realize how it really does span any type of patient population.

“We need to be planning for these people.”

Teddie Potter

United Healthcare Workers East at DC Climate Change Rally.

United Healthcare Workers East at Washington DC climate rally

TP: Also, there are community nurses worrying about patients who are homebound and in need of oxygen and other things that require a steady source of electricity. We need to be planning for those people. What do you do when flood waters rise, and you can’t get out of your house because you’re wheelchair-bound? And your caregiver can’t come because they’re stuck [in the flood] where they are, and you can’t even get out of bed? All of these things have to be thought about.

KH: As an example of that, here in DC it’s gotten better because the local utilities have been addressing it, but there were lots of power outages accompanying extreme weather events during the summer. And when families with children on ventilators at home don’t have electricity for a few days, they end up having to take up an ICU bed because they’re not able to be on just a general floor.

TP: As a state that has a significant rural population, [In Minnesota] we are also concerned about people working outside who harvest and pick the crops. We’re concerned about dehydration. A while ago one of our Minnesota Vikings players died from heat exposure and dehydration at the Vikings summer training camp. This is not something that we’ve had to think about in the past. Hot and humid days can impact even young people in peak condition and we are having more and more days with high heat and humidity.

Are today’s nurses following in Florence Nightingale’s footsteps? Was she the first activist nurse?

TP: She was an activist but also a scientist. She was deeply committed to evidence-based practice and she was a brilliant statistician. She really looked at the environment as doing the healing for patients. As she said in Notes on Nursing, “medicine and surgery can remove obstructions… nature alone cures.” And she was a great believer in and taught about the importance of good food, adequate hydration, mobility, cleanly environments, and exposure to fresh air.

In the Crimean war what got her started was that they were seeing more people dying from the care they received in the hospital than from the injuries they received on the battlefield. So it was a care issue and that was what marshalled her and other women at that time to go to Turkey and set up an alternative way of caring—fresh air, clean sheets, adequate food—and people started surviving. It is deeply at the core of the nursing profession: we work with the environment to put people in a position to recover and have a quality of life. Nurses are on the move following the same principles today.

How can nurses get—and how are they getting—involved in the movement to reduce effects of climate change?

KH: I think there are a number of points of engagement. Nurses are really can-do people. When they find a problem, they want to fix it, and so when you start to learn about climate change and its effects, it is natural to immediately want to get engaged.

Healthcare workers at climate change rally in Minnesota.
Nurses and other healthcare professionals participated in Minnesota’s climate rally.

I think this is a great opportunity for nurses to get together—you know, strength in numbers—to elevate this issue and use our position as America’s most trusted profession to talk about it. Also, [it’s important to] meet with policy makers—whether it’s at the state, national, or local level—when you can speak with elected officials and help them to make that health and climate change connection. Because a lot of elected officials still don’t understand that it’s a health issue and if they want to protect the health of their constituents it’s an issue they need to be taking on.

And, it’s been very exciting to see so many nurses doing things like going to the different climate marches. It’s another way to show that nurses are leaders in the area around climate change. One of the things my organization (ANHE, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments) has been doing is we’ve created a nursing collaborative on climate change and health. This came out of a round-table we did at the White House during the Obama administration where we had around 20 nursing organizations and unions at this round table talking about what nurses can do about climate change and health. It was a really historic event. We were the first group of health professionals that they had reached out to at the time to do something like this.

After that, we decided we needed a strong collaborative effort, and that is how we created the Nursing Collaborative on Climate Change and Health. We have 11 organizations, and a couple more really large organizations about to sign on. Working together we show visible leadership among the nursing community as well as among policy makers.

Where can nurses find out more about the impact of climate change?

KH: Well, at ANHE (Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments) we have tons of resources on the website, lots of free tools for nurses to engage. We’ve got talking points, academic databases and case studies, resources for pregnant women and children, and much more.

We’re also part of the Nurses Climate Challenge, in which ANHE’s partnered with Healthcare without Harm. Basically in the Nurses Climate Challenge we have Nurse Champions that sign up on the website. The champions then go out and educate their fellow nurses and other healthcare professionals about climate change and health. They have a really robust toolkit with PowerPoints with notes and posters they can customize if they want to make a presentation at their monthly nursing meeting. Then we track each event: if someone does a presentation, they note how many attended. The first year we had a goal of 5,000 nurses and other healthcare professionals educated, but we quickly grew past that so we decided to up our goal to 50,000 nurses educated by 2022. And we just started that a few months ago, and we’re already past 10,000. It’s exponentially growing!

“It’s an amazing opportunity to prevent disease.”

Katie Huffling

I’d like to bring in another positive note: this is also the greatest opportunity that we have to impact public health. These things that we can do to affect climate change can have a widespread positive impact on health. It’s an amazing opportunity to prevent disease. And I think that that’s another core feature of nursing practice—that we want to see our patients become healthier and to not have to be treating them for these preventable illnesses. When we address climate change we can have such a positive impact on health.

TP: I’ll just add in that the dean of the Minnesota School of Nursing has appointed me the first Director of Planetary Health for the school, so that nurses can learn to apply what we do to care for the environment so that our patients and our communities will be healthier.

George Washington University Nursing School Faculty Receive $2.8M Grant to Launch Nurse Practitioner Program

George Washington University Nursing School Faculty Receive $2.8M Grant to Launch Nurse Practitioner Program

A team of nursing and medical school faculty from George Washington University (GW) have received a $2.8 million grant to launch a training program for nurse practitioner students. Funding to get the program off the ground was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The new nurse practitioner program is called The Nurse Practitioner Technology Enhanced Community Health program. Students in the program will learn how to use telehealth technology, which is software used to provide health care information and treatment from a distance, to expand access to care in underserved populations and in rural and urban communities.

The program will be led by Christine Pintz, PhD, FNP-BC, WHNP-BC, RN, FAANP, a professor of nursing at GW, along with six professors from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Medical Faculty Associates, and the School of Nursing. This team of faculty will design and implement a curriculum focused on enhancing community health through technology.

A press release from GW Nursing states: “[Nurse practitioners] will be better able to provide high-quality care to patients in underserved communities who might have chronic health issues or lack access to care.”

To learn more about the $2.8 million granted awarded to George Washington University to launch a training program for nurse practitioner students, visit here.

George Washington University School of Nursing Launches Health Policy Degree Program

George Washington University School of Nursing Launches Health Policy Degree Program

The George Washington University School of Nursing (GW Nursing) has announced a new health policy degree program. The policy-focused doctor of nursing practice program will be offered for the first time in fall 2019. 

GW’s new 42-credit program will teach nurses how to formulate health policy solutions and influence health care policy solutions and health care policy. The goal of the program is to increase access to better and more affordable health care. 

The program will be led by Program Director David Keepnews, an expert in health policy process and influencing policy to improve quality of care, increase access, and control costs. Located in downtown Washington, DC, students will have a unique opportunity to engage with policymakers at the national level. 

Students who graduate from the doctoral program will be qualified to work for public, private, and academic organizations that handle health policy. Admissions for the fall semester are open and rolling for nursing professionals with an interest in health policy. 

Former nursing school Dean Jean Johnson tells, “There are many very serious health care issues facing our country in terms of cost, access and quality, and nurses need to bring their knowledge of population needs and effective interventions into the policy discussion to improve our health system and provide safer, higher-quality care.” 

To learn more about GW Nursing’s new health policy doctoral degree program, visit here

George Washington University School of Nursing Hires Male Faculty to Help Increase Male Student Population

George Washington University School of Nursing Hires Male Faculty to Help Increase Male Student Population

The George Washington University School of Nursing (GW Nursing) has recently employed new male nursing faculty to help serve as role models for male students. Despite a 50 percent increase in nursing faculty since 2014, the university still lags in hiring male faculty. 

In 2014, GW Nursing hired four male professors out of 55 total faculty members, and the school now employs five male professors out of 82 total faculty members. A lack of male faculty decreases male student enrollment and limits diversity, so the university has made it a goal to hire more diverse faculty, including men. 

Pamela Jeffries, dean of the GW School of Nursing, tells, “It is important that we have members of our faculty who represent that demographic to give students classroom leaders they can relate to in terms of shared personal and social constructs.” 

Hiring more male faculty gives the increasing male student population more relatable mentors in the predominantly female field. Six percent of faculty in the GW School of Nursing are male, while multiple peer institutions employ an average of 20 percent male nursing faculty. Jeffries is concerned that a low population of male nursing students will translate to a lower proportion of men in each graduating class, skewing the ratio of male to female faculty members. However, GW has a larger than average population of male nursing students that Jeffries hopes will help close the gap in their faculty population. 

Mark Tanner, assistant dean of the Bachelor of Science nursing program and an associate professor of nursing, says, “The experience of being a male in our society is inherently different than the experience of being female, so I do think that individuals who identify as male bring different worldviews to the field of nursing.”

While there are no overt barriers to men joining nursing school faculty, increasing male faculty numbers are important to remind male students that they are welcome in the female-dominated field. To learn more about how GW Nursing plans to increase the number of male nursing students by hiring more male nursing faculty, visit here

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