Penn Nursing Hosts Student-Run Conference on Need for Mental Health Awareness in Health Care

Penn Nursing Hosts Student-Run Conference on Need for Mental Health Awareness in Health Care

Two nursing students from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program organized and hosted a student-run conference that drew nearly 200 students and community members to discuss incorporating mental health awareness into health care.

Paige Martin and Jessie Axsom came up with the idea for the conference after realizing that harm reduction and trauma-informed care were almost never discussed in their nursing school curriculum. “Harm reduction” refers to the practice of medical professionals accepting that patients may engage in risky behaviors, working to meet patients where they are rather than judging them. “Trauma-informed care” means that health care providers assume that a patient has experienced some type of trauma and act accordingly.

Their conference, titled “Reimagining Mental Health,” featured speakers from across Philadelphia and Penn communities to discuss harm reductionist and trauma-informed approaches to health care. The duo hoped their conference would help increase awareness among health system workers and community members about these issues. They also hoped to provide attendees with tangible strategies to provide these methods in their everyday lives and future careers.

Axsom tells, “Trauma-informed care was actually identified as a critical need of the West Philadelphia community, and Philadelphia has been forced to become a leader in harm reduction in their response to the opioid crisis, but both of these topics have been completely left out of our nursing education in any meaningful way. Our frustration and our anger drove us to organize an event that would at least start to address those needs.”

To learn more about the Reimagining Mental Health student-run conference hosted at Penn Nursing, visit here.

Penn State Donors Establish $10 Million Nursing Scholarship

Penn State Donors Establish $10 Million Nursing Scholarship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An anonymous Penn State donor couple has made a gift of $5 million to endow a scholarship for students with financial need in the College of Nursing. This is the largest single gift the college has received in its six-year history. In addition, the University is matching the gift 1:1, bringing the scholarship endowment total to $10 million. Students from western Pennsylvania and rural regions of the commonwealth will be given first preference for the awards.

“The College of Nursing’s potential for impact on the health of communities across the commonwealth is vast, and these donors have recognized that potential through this remarkable gift,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Their support will help to address the commonwealth’s pressing need for health care professionals and allow recipients to forge meaningful careers in nursing, transforming their own lives. We’re very grateful for this generous gift.”

College of Nursing undergraduates who must meet the cost of a Penn State degree with loans graduate, on average, with an educational debt of more than $42,500. Recipients of the scholarship, however, will receive annual awards of up to $10,000. This will significantly reduce their debt and allow them more latitude to choose jobs in high-need but lower-paid geographic areas and medical fields that present the most urgent need for nurses.

“The extraordinary couple who made this gift have been impressed by the excellence of Penn State’s nursing programs,” said Laurie Badzek, dean and professor of the College of Nursing. “In particular, they appreciate our work to prepare a generation of nurses with a solid grounding in geriatrics and community health.”

“Nursing is a discipline that touches everyone’s life at some point, and these generous donors are helping to ensure better care across the commonwealth,” said Susan Kukic, director of development and alumni relations for the college. “While they have chosen to remain anonymous, they are important role models whose vision for the future of our students and our college will, I hope, inspire others to consider how they can support excellence in nursing and nursing education.”  

For information on this scholarship and the nursing program at Penn State, visit here.

Penn Nursing Study Improves Outcomes For Sepsis Patients

Penn Nursing Study Improves Outcomes For Sepsis Patients

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) has collaborated with the Center for Home Care Policy & Research at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York on a national study that shows that a combination of early home health nursing and at least one outpatient physician visit in the first week after hospital discharge reduces the risk of 30-day hospital readmission for sepsis patients by seven percent. 

According to, more than 1 million sepsis survivors are discharged annually from acute care hospitals in the United States. Sepsis survivors account for a majority of hospital readmissions nationwide and effective interventions are needed to decrease these poor outcomes. The study concluded that a combination of home nursing visits and early physician follow-up facilitates a coordinated care plan and early surveillance for new or recurrent problems. 

Kathryn Bowles, PhD, FAAN, FACMI, van Ameringen Chair in Nursing Excellence, and the study’s co-principal investigator, tells, “Our findings support integrated care management, including scheduling physician follow-up before discharge rather than recommending that patients schedule their own follow-up, as well as a clear communication that this is a sepsis survivor so HHC can activate early attention. If translated nationally, this operational strategy could complement national and state initiatives to improve the acute and PAC outcomes of sepsis survivors. Our study revealed much room for improvement as only 28.1% of sepsis survivors transitioned to HHC received this intervention.”

To learn more about Penn Nursing’s collaboration on a national study of hospital readmissions due to sepsis, visit here

SAFE-T Center at Penn State Trains Nurses to Provide Sexual Assault Care

SAFE-T Center at Penn State Trains Nurses to Provide Sexual Assault Care

Pennsylvania State University is using telecommunications technologies to help train nurses for providing better care to sexual assault victims. The Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Telehealth (SAFE-T) Center connects experienced professionals with nurses and health care professionals in training for sexual assault care, while providing patients with crucial help.

The SAFE-T Center is helping provide better access to sexual assault care in underserved communities across the state. The center, now set up at three partner sites across Pennsylvania, was launched three years ago with funding from the Office for Victims of Crime in the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Having a forensic exam performed with expert nursing assistance in a safe, supported environment can be the first step toward healing,” said Sheridan Miyamoto, assistant professor of nursing at Penn State and director of the SAFE-T Center. “Every victim deserves expert care, and every nurse deserves support in providing that care.”

Merging Forensics and Healthcare

Forensic nursing is crucial to helping care for sexual assault survivors. Forensic nurses are trained in very specialized areas like forensic evidence and collection, and additionally learn how to work with the legal system, in order to interact and present evidence in courtroom cases. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic nursing is expected to grow by 26% in the next ten years.

Jocelyn Anderson, a forensic nurse and researcher at Penn State, also works with the SAFE-T Center and knows how crucial the work of a forensic nurse and sexual assault nurse is.  As she shared with Penn State News, research shows that patients receiving care from specifically trained nurses are more likely to receive appropriate care and medication, and have a sexual assault kit properly collected. This means the likelihood of having their criminal case move forward increases, and the experience is not as traumatic for patients with forensically trained health care professionals.

“This specified training and knowledge is not something that every ER nurse or every trained physician can or should be doing,” Anderson said.

Jane French, a clinical coordinator at the SAFE-T Center, manages a team of expert sexual assault nurse examiners and local nurses. She helps ensure that the patients are cared for and that the staff are fully supported and confident in their work.

“Sexual assault exams can be technically and emotionally difficult, and staff who perform them may be difficult to retain,” French said. “The SAFE-T Center offers quality assurance, peer support, mentorship and on-demand training to help nurses feel confident that they are doing a good job.”

For more information on the SAFE-T Center, click here to visit their website.

New Study From Penn Nursing Links Nurse Work Environments With Outcomes

New Study From Penn Nursing Links Nurse Work Environments With Outcomes

A new meta-analysis from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s (Penn Nursing) Center for Health Outcomes & Policy Research (CHOPR) has synthesized 16 years of studies to show the association between the nurse work environment and four sets of outcomes: nurse job outcomes, nurse assessments of quality and safety, patient health outcomes, and patient satisfaction. 

Nurses play a critical role in patient safety and new research from Penn Nursing explores the relationship between the nurse work environment and a variety of patient and nurse quality and safety outcomes. Nurses are often the last line of defense against medical errors and unsafe practices and this new research shows an association between nurse work environments and health care quality, safety, and patient and clinician well-being. 

Lead-investigator Eileen T. Lake, PhD, MSN, FAAN, the Jessie M. Scott Endowed Term Chair in Nursing and Health Policy, tells, “Our quantitative synthesis of the results of many studies revealed that better work environments were associated with lower odds of negative outcomes ranging from patient and nurse job dissatisfaction to patient mortality.”

The study involved a systematic review of studies from around the world that reported empirical research using the Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index. The study reported data from more than 2,600 hospitals, 165,000 nurses, and 1.3 million patients about the practice environment, nurse job outcomes, safety and quality ratings, patient outcomes, and patient satisfaction.

To learn more about Penn Nursing’s new study linking better work environments with lower odds of negative outcomes, visit here

Pitt-Greensburg Receives $1.5 Million Grant for Growing Nursing Degree Program

Pitt-Greensburg Receives $1.5 Million Grant for Growing Nursing Degree Program

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg was recently granted $1.5 million from the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation to support its growing nursing degree program. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program welcomed its second class of students this fall and is recruiting its third.

The program is affiliated with the internationally recognized University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing and holds national accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Pitt-Greensburg hopes to address a shortage of nurses in the region who have earned degrees. The university expects to have 300 students enrolled in the program by 2020 and to graduate 75 nurses each year.

Marie Fioravanti, director of nursing at Pitt-Greensburg, tells, “The BSN is quickly becoming a required degree by major health care providers in the region and the nation. Studies show that hospital units employing nurses with BSN degrees post significantly lower mortality rates than those staffed by non-BSN-degreed nurses.”

The Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation has provided support to Pitt-Greensburg in the past, helping to fund academic halls and technology improvements. The new grant will allow the university to enroll more nursing students and students will have the opportunity to participate in more than 900 hours of clinical experiences at health care facilities in neighboring counties.

To learn more about the $1.5 million grant awarded to University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg’s nursing program, visit here.

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