Columbia and Vanderbilt University Nurses Plan Emergency Response
With the increasing rise of terrorism threats and everyday man-made emergencies world wide, nurses are at the forefront of helping to save lives. Usually first on the scene or first to respond to a patient, they need to think fast and perform quickly. And thanks to Columbia University's and Vanderbilt University's School of Nursing, nurses from around the world will soon be able to respond to emergencies using the same techniques.
The nursing schools at Columbia University and Vanderbilt University have worked in conjunction as part of the International Nursing Coalition for Mass Casualty Education to develop a standardized curriculum of competencies to serve all nurses.
"The key issue was how can we establish a community base that wherever nurses meet, there is a common knowledge on how to prepare emergency care," said Kristine Gebbie, Director of Center for Health Policy at Columbia University's School of Nursing.
Over 70 organizations from around the world have pitched in to help support the development of this curriculum. "It struck a nerve," said Gebbie. "It was clearly something people were looking for and are anxious to use."
The curriculum will help prepare nurses to respond in the same way to emergency situations, or mass casual incidents such as fires, crashes, blackouts or even terrorist attacks. Dean of Columbia University's School of Nursing, Dr. Mary O. Mundinger, said there has been a broad acceptance of the model. "Here we've got a model in nursing education and nursing practice that are standardized," said Mundinger. "A graduate has to come out with some standard competence so when nurses come out [of school], they all speak the same language."
In addition to University classes, there are also continuing education programs using the standardized curriculum. "A nurse is a nurse is a nurse," said Dr. Colleen Conway-Welch, Dean of Vanderbilt University's School of Nursing. "Even if you have been out of the community for 20 years, you may want to help if help is needed."
Welch said she was contacted late in 2000 to start working on this project. Soon after, she called her friend Mundinger to join this coalition. Since then the two have been pushing forth with a various number of organizations to continue, as Welch said, "getting the right resources into place."
"Nurses were hungry for some of this information," said Welch. "VA nurses and military nurses were already prepared because they have defined roles. It's the nurses in the communities without defined roles that we are most concerned about."
Paul Kapsar, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Nursing, agreed. "Trying to get the nursing population that is not hospital based has been a big challenge because they don't consider themselves first responders."
Karen Ballard, from the New York State Nurses Association, said this information is crucial for all nurses. "We have different aspects of being prepared for an emergency," said Ballard. "Because of the anxiety generated [in an emergency situation], it takes a lot of education so it becomes automatic."
Welch said putting together this curriculum has been "analogous to birthing a baby. And now I have this toddler on hand and we are working hard to see it is sustainable and make sure we have the right people to support it," said Welch. "This is life and death information."
Columbia University School of Nursing has received three large bequests totaling $5.4 million. The gifts bring the School's endowment to over $40 million; the highest of any nursing school, and includes 10 endowed chairs, also the most in a nursing school. These new gifts are primarily for financial aid, including the largest single gift the School has ever received, in the amount of $4.4 million from the Frances L. Somers estate. The remaining gifts are from the Elise Fish and Jacqueline Webb estates.
"We are need blind in our admissions process, and these gifts will substantially assist us in providing the $3 million in financial aid grants our students receive each year," said Dean Mary O'Neil Mundinger. "We are enormously proud of our growing alumni support. We celebrate the opportunity such support gives promising young men and women who have chosen nursing as a profession and who will someday be Columbia alumni."
Columbia University School of Nursing, founded in 1892, is dedicated to advanced nursing education and practice and health services research. Dr. Mary O. Mundinger, a noted health policy expert, has served as dean of Columbia's nursing school since 1986.#