Belmont Director of College Health Science Simulation and Assistant Nursing Professor Dr. Beth Hallmark is committed to the University’s sustainability ideals as she leads the School of Nursing’s (SON) efforts to reuse and recycle simulation equipment.
In a simulation lab, students are given the opportunity to practice nursing skills in a safe environment, complete with set-ups that mimic hospitals in the Nashville area and use the same equipment students will see in their clinical rotations. Although this opportunity is an invaluable educational experience, it can be very costly.
With the popularity of nursing on the rise and Belmont’s School becoming more and more successful, Hallmark said her interest in the School’s sustainability efforts began when she started to notice the increase of nursing students and the sheer volume of supplies needed.
Simply recycling the equipment used by students wouldn’t have been adequate, since a large part of the lab is learning sterile techniques when opening equipment. To reproduce this experience for each student but cut down on cost, Hallmark decided to start the SON’s reuse program. Since simulations utilize state of the art mannequins and no contamination of supplies occurs, the reuse of simulation equipment is sanitary and safe.
Now, a number of student workers are trained to clean equipment once it has been used in a simulation. Using a detailed guide, workers re-package tools so they look the same for the next student who will open them.
Hallmark takes the SON’s program one step further by personally traveling to area hospitals and healthcare organizations to collect unused and expired supplies that would have been thrown away. Since the simulations work only on mannequins, expired equipment can provide training for nursing students. The equipment that the SON cannot use or does not need is donated to a local nonprofit, ProjectCure.
“The SON has been blessed with unbelievable facilities and thanks to Mr. Inman and grants from local organizations like the Memorial Foundation, we continue to have the best facilities; however, it is important that we are good stewards of what we have been given,” Hallmark said. “We truly believe that we are called to honor the verse in Luke that reminds us, ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’”
With the combination of the SON’s reuse program and the unused supplies collected from area organizations, Hallmark estimates than an average $40,000 is saved yearly. With this savings, Hallmark says the program is able to save budgeting for specialty items that might not have otherwise been purchased.
Belmont’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) was recently granted full accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education’s (CCNE) Board of Commissioners. The University began its Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to DNP program in the fall of 2012 with 5 students. In the fall of 2013, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to DNP program was launched. In the fall of 2014, the programs together totaled 28 enrolled students.
With the first graduating class in May 2014, Belmont has seen great success with both DNP tracks. 75 percent of these graduates were invited to present their scholarly project, a required portion of their degree track, at a national meeting of nurse practitioners.
“This is yet another notable benchmark for nursing at Belmont. I am grateful for the University’s leadership and encouragement for establishing the DNP program and also want to recognize the hard work of Drs. Buckner, Wofford and Higgins and the graduate nursing faculty and staff. This accreditation award is a direct reflection of their steadfast commitment to professional excellence,” said Dean of the Health Science and Nursing College, Dr. Cathy Taylor.
The School of Nursing aims to produce nursing professionals that can assist in transforming our nation’s health care industry, said Dr. Martha Buckner, associate dean of nursing. With a focus on a collaborative educational environment, the School is committed to identifying needs within the industry and producing additional tracks that meet those needs.
Belmont’s Provost, Dr. Thomas Burns said, “The full accreditation of the DNP program at Belmont brings to fruition the full suite of holistic nurse training programs at Belmont. With this final piece in place, our nursing program now provides compassionate, patient-centered education to nurses across the full spectrum of practice-based nursing education and provides our students and our community with the best comprehensive nursing training program possible.”
With this granting of this accreditation, all Belmont nursing programs are fully accredited by the CCNE.
With an emphasis on experiential learning, Belmont’s School of Nursing provides students with the opportunity to participate in human simulation labs. For Nursing Instructor Sara Camp’s Adult Health II students, this meant taking part in an End of Life lab that simulated the death of a patient, with a volunteer acting as a grieving family member.
When the participating students arrived, they were aware of their patient, Lisa’s, prognosis. Equipped with her report, they were tasked with guiding Lisa and her family member through her final stages of life. As Lisa’s heart rate and pulse slowed, the volunteer family member’s questions sped up. Similar to what would occur in a hospital setting, students were responsible for providing care and comfort for the patient, while assisting the family during a particularly challenging time.
Belmont University Web and Marketing Developer Jon Blankenship participated in the simulation because of a personal connection he has to caregivers who specialize in end of life treatment. His father was recently diagnosed with end stage colon cancer and through the experience, “the one constant we have is how wonderful Dad’s nurses are to him and to us,” Blankenship said. The opportunity to contribute to the education of a nurse who could play that same role for a family in the future was what made Jon sign on. For those nurses, “there aren’t enough thanks to give,” he said.
Camp is committed to equipping students with the skills needed to care for the family system, not just the patients they are assigned. Often, nurses are expected to be experts on caring for patients in their final stages of life in a hospital, regardless of their training or comfort level. Camp said many bedside nurses aren’t confident in the end of life training they have received and because of that, are not adequate resources for new nurses to turn to. “Given that the end of life is such an important event in the life of our patients and their families, it seems irresponsible to leave this to on the job training,” she said.
Senior nursing major and simulation participant Blair Bailey would agree. “It is nice to have practiced skills in lab, prior to actually performing the skills in the hospital,” she said. “I will definitely be able to take what I learned from this simulation and take the experience into the real world as a nurse.”
In a debrief following the simulation, senior nursing major Mark Wolter, discussed the challenge of moving from a proactive treatment mentality to one that comforts the family and patient through the final stages of life. Because of Lisa’s signed DNR and DNI, once the final stages of life had come, there was no medical intervention that could be done. Instead of working to raise a heartbeat once it had dropped, the care team was responsible for ensuring the comfort and ease of both the patient and the family. “At this point in a patient’s care, you are treating everyone close to the patient, and you realize the impact that you can have as a nurse in keeping the situation as peaceful as possible,” he said.
Through this and countless other simulations included in Belmont’s program, students are given the opportunity to practice their skills through first hand experiences, preparing them for clinicals and post-graduation careers. Wolter said he is grateful for the emphasis Belmont puts on experiential learning and knows the program continues to advocate for more and more opportunities. “I’m a nail and hammer kind of learner, so that has helped me in a profound way,” he said. “The experiences I have had while at Belmont are beneficial because I have had varying experiences that I will build from in my first job and first few years as a nurse. I am thankful.”
The Belmont University School of Physical Therapy recently hosted two health professionals from Istituto Prosperius Tiberino, a 75-bed rehabilitation hospital in Umbria, Italy. Since 2012, nine Belmont physical therapy students have completed a clinical affiliation at the hospital, and three more students are scheduled for an eight-week clinical affiliation during the spring of 2015.
Istituto Prosperius provides both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation for patients with neurological and orthopedic disorders and injuries in a team model of care which includes physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, nurses, art therapists, psychologists and social workers. The Istituto staff conducts ongoing research projects and pilots technological devices for the rehabilitation of neurological patients. The hospital serves as one of leading centers in Italy using robotic therapy to assist in ambulation for patients with spinal cord injuries. The facility also houses two large therapy pools for patients, one equipped with underwater steppers and treadmills.
Dr. Paolo Milia, Chair of the Department of Neurology and Neuro-rehabilitation Research at Istituto Prosperius, and Mike Arnall, a physical therapist and President of Eduglobal Associates, visited Belmont. Milia completed his medical degree at G. D’Annunzio University in Chieti, Italy, and earned a PhD in neurological research from the University of Perugia in Italy. Arnall founded Eduglobal in 2006 when he began developing clinical education opportunities for American physical therapy students. His company coordinates the selection, placement, orientation and evaluation of the physical therapy students with the numerous Italian clinical instructors on staff. Last year, 41 PT students completed clinical affiliations. Currently, 31 U.S. physical therapy programs have contracts with Eduglobal.
During the visit, Milia and Arnall gave a presentation to physical therapy and occupational therapy faculty and students about Istituto Prosperius, his typical caseload and robotic therapy research projects. The presentation included videos of patients using the Eksoskeleton. They met with Schools of Occupational Therapy, Nursing and Pharmacy to explore the possibility of students from those programs affiliating at the rehabilitation hospital in the future. Meetings were also scheduled with community partners to explore expanded roles and partnerships including Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center and Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital.
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., founder of Hope Through Healing Hands, and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, led a community conversation Monday in Belmont’s Maddox Grand Atrium on “The Mother & Child Project: Simple Steps to Saving Lives in the Developing World.” This was the first public event held by the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide, a joint partnership of Hope Through Healing Hands (HTHH), a Nashville-based global health organization, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
More than 250 individuals representing the faith community, global health NGO and higher-education sectors throughout greater Nashville attended the discussion, hosted by Belmont University. In addition to opening the event, Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns and Hope Through Healing Hands (HTHH) Executive Director Dr. Jenny Eaton Dyer also announced that this fall they would award the first Frist Global Health Fellowship to enable a Belmont graduate student to be immersed for a semester in a global health experience.
U.S. Olympic figure skating champion Scott Hamilton, who with his wife Tracie is an active global health advocate, moderated the event, posing questions to Frist and Gates about their experiences.
“As I began to talk with women around the world, it became very clear to me the spacing and timing of pregnancies we take for granted in the U.S. is a matter of life and death for them,” said Gates. “So I got very involved in contraceptives, because it truly starts the cycle of life, where they can feed their children, get their children in school, and honestly, not die themselves.”
Sen. Frist agreed, saying, “Contraception is a pro-life cause.” He went on to explain that, “…if you delay first pregnancy to 18 years old, you can increase survival in countries where one in 39 women die in childbirth, and cut the chance of children dying by 30 percent, enabling them to stay in school and become productive members of families.”
“Second, if you can push out the interval between pregnancies to three year period, the child is twice as likely to survive the newborn stage.”