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.”
The Inman Health Sciences Building became a workshop and playground on Thursday as part of an international project to promote pediatric mobility. University of Delaware physical therapy professor Cole Galloway and his Pediatric Mobility Lab and Design Studio bought to Belmont Go Baby Go, a program that teaches adults how to modify existing toy cars in a few hours to make them functional for children with disabilities.
Eight families and their therapists from Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia worked alongside Belmont occupational therapy and physical therapy students and alumni to learn how to modify toys and the logistics of the Go Baby Go program. Together, they altered Fisher Price Lightning McQueen red cars with Velcro, PVC pipes, pool noodles and kickboards to create wheelchair-like toys. The cars also function as physical therapy devices to teach strength and balance while allowing the disabled children to socialize with other children their age. Through constraint-induced therapy, the children are motivated to use their weaker muscles to gain independence and operate the toys, which by nature are fun. Buttons were moved so that the toy car moves only when a girl with cerebral palsy holds her head up or a boy with a spinal cord injury stands.
For 1-year-old Paisley Queen, she must engage her weak right hand to move her toy car. She suffered an intrauterine stroke and does not use the right side of her body.
“Hopefully, the car will make her more mobile and force her to use her right arm and eventually her right leg and catch her up with her peers who are crawling and starting to walk. That will be a benefit to us,” said her mom Laura Queen, of Mount Juliet, Tennessee. (more…)
10 Years of Perfection for Nursing Graduates
For the tenth consecutive year, graduates of the Belmont University master’s program (MSN) for Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) have achieved a 100 percent first time pass rate on the nursing certification examination. The most recent class of 28 graduates all passed the exam on the first attempt this spring. Nationally, only 80 percent of new FNP graduates pass on the first attempt.
“This is a truly remarkable accomplishment,” said Dr. Martha Buckner, associate dean of nursing. “We are so proud of the sustained level of excellence by our students and faculty and for the leadership of program director and professor of nursing, Dr. Leslie Higgins.”
The School of Nursing began offering the Master of Science in Nursing 20 years ago, and the program has grown throughout the years to a record enrollment of 83 students this past fall. FNP graduates enjoy significant professional flexibility and marketability. Prepared to practice in a variety of settings, FNPs provide primary health care to families and individuals of all ages.