Our Nurse of the Week is Saman Perera, a Tennessee-native nurse fighting healthcare inequality through Doctors Without Borders. Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Hendersonville, TN, Perera decided to join Doctors Without Borders after graduating from nursing school and is now setting an example for his community on how to get involved in global humanitarian efforts.
After attending the University of Illinois for his bachelor’s degree in nursing and Vanderbilt University for his master’s degree, Perera embarked on his first mission to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake to help with the cholera outbreak there. His missions have also taken him to work in primary care in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to the frontlines of Chad treating war-wounded victims.
However, Perera was most recently stationed on a two-month medical mission in Bentiu, South Sudan, working in a refugee camp hospital made up of 130,000 residents. The camp was created as a result of a civil war breakout in the area. Although his missions often take him to volatile, war-torn environments lacking housing and running water, Perera says the toughest aspect of his job is managing the emotions involved. Perera has found that the best way to cope with the emotions of treating victims of war is to focus on task-oriented jobs like training local nurses.
For Perera, his work with Doctors Without Borders goes beyond just nursing and medicine. He tells UTDailyBeacon.com, “I realized that medicine, for me, is a Band-Aid to something a lot bigger; we’re talking wars, huge injustices, malnutrition in countries like Congo. For me, my presence there and the presence of Doctors Without Borders is more than medicine, it’s a way of saying injustice is not okay.”
Perera recently moved to Knoxville, TN after returning from his two-month mission in South Sudan. He plans to work as a hospital nurse practitioner while he prepares for another Doctors Without Borders mission trip. In his spare time, Perera encourages other current and future healthcare workers to get involved in global aid and serve those in need.
To learn more about Perera’s time as a medical mission nurse for Doctors Without Borders, visit here.
Our Nurses of the Week are Kyle Cook, 53, and Carla Saunders, 51, neonatal nurse practitioners at a children’s hospital in Knoxville, TN. After decades spent caring for infants, these two nurses recognized a major problem when they had six babies in the nursery at once suffering from substance withdrawal. After looking to experts for answers on how to treat these delicate patients, they discovered that no one yet had the answers, and became the experts themselves.
It was 2010 when Cook and Saunders began to see the effects of the opioid crisis themselves. The first time they realized that they had a problem was when they had six babies suffering at once, but that number quickly began to grow. Cook, 53, tells NPR.org:
“We couldn’t fix it; we couldn’t make these babies better. Little did we know that was the tip of the iceberg. We had 10, and then 15, and then, at one point, 37 babies in the NICU that were withdrawing. We were bursting at the seams.”
Unprepared and short-staffed, they knew they needed to find a new solution because their current practice wasn’t helping the inconsolable infants they were attempting to treat. They worked at a small children’s hospital, but knew that the problem they were facing was a representation of a greater substance abuse problem happening all over the US.
When they called across the country looking for experts to advise them on how to treat these special patients, they discovered that nobody had the answers. They were left to find the answers themselves, and wound up helping to establish one of the first treatment protocols for babies exposed to opioids and a program connecting mothers with treatment and therapy options.
To learn more about Cook and Saunders’ experience treating babies suffering from opioid withdrawal, listen to the full podcast below:
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Nursing has been named a National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE) in recognition of their commitment to gerontological nursing. NHCGNE is dedicated to optimal health and quality of life for older adults and recognizes nursing schools across the country that have demonstrated commitment to the field.
Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the UTK College of Nursing, tells TNToday.UTK.edu, “With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 years old daily, the demands for health care and caregiving for our aging population will continue to increase for many years to come. Designation as an NHCGNE demonstrates our commitment to research, practice, and education in the area of aging, dementia, and caregiving.”
Several faculty members in the UTK College of Nursing are conducting cutting-edge research on caregiving for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Through a partnership with the Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic at UT Medical Center, researchers are addressing the needs of Tennessee and rural populations in Appalachia to determine how to best optimize clinical care for the region and develop models of care.
As a member in the NHCGNE, UTK’s College of Nursing will have access to leaders in the aging and gerontological nursing field, in addition to educational resources designed to strengthen its partnerships and programs. Karen Rose, UTK McMahan-McKinley Professor of Gerontology, tells TNToday.UTK.edu, “The needs of Tennesseans mirror the needs of patients with dementia and their family members across our country. Our goal is to produce real-world solutions to the challenges that many people face when dealing with aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.”
To learn more about the UTK College of Nursing and its work in gerontological nursing, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Adaya Troyer, a senior nursing student and undergraduate researcher at the University of Tennessee (UT) Knoxville who is using her own experience to help young children with asthma understand and manage their condition. Troyer was only two years old when she was diagnosed with asthma and now she hopes to help others thrive with the condition from a young age.
Troyer first began to understand her asthma as an elementary school student when she was given an educational video game that taught her what triggers an attack and how to react. Through her research, Troyer has discovered that educational materials about asthma for young children are nonexistent, especially for those too young to read. However, this is the age group most in need of these materials as kids younger than five are the most at risk of hospitalization.
Hoping to fill that void, Troyer’s goal is to create an iPad app. She tells TNToday.UTK.edu, “I believe that educating children early will help them understand and manage their illnesses by the time they are in school, which will decrease hospitalizations as well as social stigma placed on children by peers in their schools.” She has presented her research at the National Council on Undergraduate Research conference in Memphis, Legislative Day in Nashville, and the Southern Nursing Research Society conference in Dallas. Troyer will also present at an international nursing research conference in Ireland this July.
Upon graduation, Troyer plans to continue her work on this research project. Creating her asthma learning tool for kids will allow her to broaden the scope of her work. She will also be a participant in the Tennessee Fellowship for Graduate Excellence program, and will begin pursuing a nurse practitioner license and PhD this summer.
Troyer’s research is being highlighted by UT as part of their eighth-annual Research Week, highlighting the everyday impacts of faculty and student research. Over 1,400 UT undergraduate students are involved in research to enhance their learning process and career preparation.
To learn more about Adaya Troyer and other undergraduate nurse researchers like her, visit here.
The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is preparing to break ground on a 29,947-square-foot addition that will connect to the existing nursing buildings on campus. Construction of the $23.6 million facility will begin in late spring and is expected to open in August 2018.
The new School of Nursing building will be a five-floor structure housing technologically advanced classrooms, conference and seminar rooms, student services offices, faculty offices, and a state-of-the-art simulation teaching lab allowing students to develop complex skills and receive real-time feedback during clinical nursing hours. Virtual classrooms will use leading-edge distance technology to facilitate distance learning techniques. Additional nursing classroom space will also create free space in one of the existing nursing buildings allowing that space to be dedicated to research and a special group of research faculty.
Linda Norman, dean and Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing at Vanderbilt tells News.Vanderbilt.edu, “The building expansion is needed to accommodate the increased number of students, faculty and staff, and to ensure the school continues to attract and recruit the best students and faculty.” After an increase in nursing students from 580 in 2006 to 879 in 2017, the School of Nursing has to find a way to facilitate their exponential growth.
To learn more about Vanderbilt’s new nursing building expansion, visit here.
The School of Nursing at King University in Bristol, Tennessee is pleased by the news that their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program has received accreditation status. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) granted the accreditation status for five years, beginning at the end of this month and extending through June 30, 2021. The next on-site evaluation of King University’s DNP program will take place in the fall of 2020.
King University was first approved to operate as a Level V Institution in December 2013 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. The university was then granted approval from the SACSCOC to implement a Doctor of Nursing Practice program in August 2014.
The DNP program at King University is a practice-focused platform contributing to the expansion of knowledge underlying advanced professional nursing practice. Their program emphasizes essential knowledge development in translation of research into practice, evaluation of interdisciplinary teamwork for performance excellence, and dissemination of new knowledge for outcomes improvement. The School of Nursing designed the DNP program using the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice as specified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Dr. Cecelia Lynn Holden, dean and associate professor of the King University School of Nursing, spoke up to give her thanks to the CCNE for King’s DNP program accreditation. It is a tremendous honor to receive accreditation status from the CCNE organization, and Holden believes that King University’s first doctoral program in nursing will be a great development for the nursing profession.