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Nursing Students Participate in End of Life Simulation

death simulation-115With 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.”

death simulation-114In 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.”

MSN Students Achieve 100 Percent First-Time Pass Rate

10 Years of Perfection for Nursing Graduates

December 2013 MSN graduating class

December 2013 MSN graduating class

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.

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Students Learn About Front-Line Army Medicine, Operating Room

On April 18, the Belmont School of Nursing hosted the U.S. Army 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion. The battalion travels across the southeast to educational institutions and venues to introduce students to careers in Army medicine. The focal point was the setup of a Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH), a collapsible front-line operating room that was set up in the Inman Center lobby.

Students were given a full tour of the DRASH by active Army medics.

Inside the DRASH, active army medics gave tours and discussed their own deployment experience. “It was interesting to hear how they can set it up so quickly,” said student Ryan Shelquist. “The surgeries and the amount of equipment and the ability to stabilize and prep a patient are really impressive.”

Over the course of the day, more than 100 interested students stopped by to learn more about the tent and potential careers in army medicine. Informational material was made available, along with the option to sign up online for additional information.

Nurses and nursing students also had the opportunity to attend a one-hour continuing education (CE) course titled “Ulcer Prevention and Staging.” The course was taught by CPT Melanie Bowman, who graduated from Belmont’s nursing program in 2005. Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Margaret Wilmoth, who served as the assistant for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, also helped lead the CE course. Students also had the chance to talk with Bowman and Wilmoth one-on-one. “This is a great opportunity for [students],” said Martha Buckner, director of Belmont’s undergraduate nursing program. (more…)

Memorial Foundation Awards Belmont $300,000 for Simulation Fellowship, Upgrades

The high-fidelity simulation equipment is housed in the Inman Health Sciences Building.

The Memorial Foundation has awarded Belmont University $300,000 to upgrade high-fidelity simulation equipment, support interprofessional training in the College of Health Sciences & Nursing  and fund a post-graduate Healthcare Simulation Fellowship. Belmont has appointed Dr. Gwenn Randall as the college’s first fellow.

“We are grateful to the Memorial Foundation for this generous gift that will enable us to markedly increase the impact of our clinical simulation program. In addition to creating exciting new clinical experiences for both students and community providers, with this funding we will create new ways of educating future leaders in this emerging field,” said College of Health Sciences & Nursing Dean Cathy R. Taylor.

The University’s advanced patient simulators allow students to experience the health care profession’s daily challenges in a controlled environment. Computerized mannequins exhibit real patient symptoms and respond accordingly to treatment provided by caregivers, based on programmed scenarios. The use of simulation allows individuals preparing for health care professions to practice treatments and learn technique through simulation before treating actual patients. The University used a portion of the Memorial Foundation grant to purchase a highly specialized obstetrical mannequin that will be used to train nursing students and community partners to respond to high risk obstetric emergencies.

“A program in health care professional training in simulation meets a need in the industry, appeals to professionals who want a unique and growing career and is attractive to teaching institutions who want to become involved or expand simulation,” said Dr. Beth Hallmark, director of simulation. (more…)

Belmont Expands Doctoral Program for Nurses

Belmont University School of Nursing announced today an expansion of its degree program for the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to support national efforts to increase the number of nurse professionals prepared for advanced practice and leadership in the healthcare industry. The School is now accepting applications for fall enrollment to a BSN-to-DNP program which provides a direct pathway to the doctoral degree for registered nurses (RNs) who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The new program will prepare students for advanced practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) following three years of full-time study offered in a format friendly to working professionals.

Nursing has joined many other health professions—such as medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiology and dentistry—to establish a practice doctorate following completion of the bachelor’s degree. Many national studies and reports have led nursing accrediting bodies to move toward this degree to help meet the demands created by the increasing complexities of health care, serious concerns with safety and quality in patient care and the changing landscape of healthcare reform.

“We believe the DNP will be the education necessary for future practice in the advanced role,” said Dr. Martha Buckner, associate dean for nursing in Belmont’s Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing. “This program will open doors in nursing practice, policy. and education that will become increasingly evident in the years ahead.”

Belmont previously initiated the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a post-master’s DNP offered to nurse practitioners who had already attained a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). This two-year program is offered in a unique format allowing working professionals from across the U.S. to complete the DNP and will continue as an option for individuals already certified as nurse practitioners.

The School will also continue to offer a master’s degree program preparing RNs for advanced practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner. “At some point soon the DNP will be the exclusive option to prepare for advanced practice,” said Dr. Leslie Higgins, director of graduate studies in nursing at Belmont, “but until then, we will continue to meet the needs of nurses who want to complete their advanced degree at the master’s level.”

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