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Our Nurse of the Week is Sheri Carson, a clinical instructor in the University of Arizona (UA) College of Nursing who developed a child abuse screening program to help emergency room nurses recognize the signs of abuse early on.

Children are in and out of emergency rooms every day for accidents and illnesses, but Carson is concerned with those who come in with abuse-related injuries. The US has no standardized screening process to identify the early signs of child abuse in emergency departments across the country, which results in many cases of physical child abuse going unnoticed.

Carson has been dedicated to pediatrics since she graduated from nursing school and after learning the statistics of missed child abuse cases in emergency rooms, Carson sought to improve them.

She tells wildcat.arizona.edu, “I always dreamed about being a mom, but I wasn’t blessed with children. When I see children—who I think are a gift—that are experiencing abuse, it just pulls at my heartstrings like nothing else.”

Carson has spent the last few years researching and developing an evidence-based screening program to catch signs of child abuse early on. In November she was named Pediatric Nurse Practitioner of the Year by the Arizona chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners in honor of her work.

According to The Daily Wildcat, 11 to 64 percent of child abuse cases go undetected by healthcare providers — 35 to 50 percent of children in missed cases are at risk for future injuries from abuse, and 10 to 30 percent will die from of those injuries. There are protocols in place to treat child abuse once it’s been identified, but Carson’s concern is with the cases of missed abuse, which she hopes to capture more often by implementing proper screening.

To learn more about Sheri Carson, the University of Arizona clinical nursing instructor who developed a new child abuse screening program to help emergency room healthcare providers identify the signs of child abuse early on, visit here

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