Tag Archive | "school of nursing and health studies"


Florida Blue Grant to Help Increase Diversity of Nurse Scientists

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 3, 2014) – A three-year grant from the Florida Blue Foundation will enable the School of Nursing and Health Studies to promote diversity in the nurse-scientist workforce and increase minority student enrollment in nursing Ph.D. programs.

The key component of the project is a ten-week summer research experience that will provide minority nursing students with intensive training in health disparities research as well as a stipend to help support their participation in the program. Participating undergraduate nursing students from the South Florida community will learn the role that Ph.D.-prepared nurses play in advancing nursing as a discipline and in addressing health disparities. It is hoped that this newly acquired knowledge will steer them toward a scientific career.

“Among the obstacles that minority nursing students face in pursuing their doctoral education are limited access to suitable mentors, economic barriers, and lack of exposure to undergraduate research experiences,” said the study’s principal investigator, assistant professor Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda, Ph.D. ’08. “We hypothesize that the summer research program will increase students’ interest in pursuing their doctorate degrees in health as well as their chances of getting into Ph.D. programs.”

Every student selected for the special research training initiative will be mentored by a nurse faculty researcher who will set goals with the student, supervise his or her activities, including participation in research studies, and provide guidance on professional aims. At the end of the program, each student will prepare a scientific poster to be shared with the South Florida community and presented at a local conference.

“The support from the Florida Blue Foundation helps us reach out to a greater number of future nurse scientists at the undergraduate level,” said study co-investigator Mary Hooshmand, Ph.D. ’10, assistant professor of clinical. “By encouraging gifted students from minority backgrounds to pursue a doctoral education, we hope to advance the goal of having a nursing research workforce that mirrors the increasingly diverse demographics of South Florida and of the nation.”

The funded project helps address the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 2010 The Future of Nursing report, which called for doubling the number of doctorate-prepared nurses by 2020. The project also comprises part of the rollout efforts of South Florida’s Education Act Team of the Florida Action Coalition—the driving force for implementing the IOM report’s recommendations and transforming health care through nursing in the state.


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Ebola Simulation Prepares Nursing Students for the Real World


Ebola Simulation Prepares Nursing Students for the Real World

Nursing students wore the protective gear the CDC recommends to avoid infection.

Nursing students and firefighters donned the protective gear the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to avoid infection.

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (November 8, 2014)—The School of Nursing and Health Studies was transformed into the Emergency Department of a Miami-Dade County hospital, as nursing students donned personal protection equipment (PPE) recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to treat Ebola patients. The “patients” were actually volunteers recruited from UM student associations, local community organizations, and other groups to assist with a simulated Ebola crisis. Each simulated patient was given a list of  different signs and symptoms, such as stomachaches and vomiting, to act out.

The exercise was designed to ensure the school’s graduating seniors are confident and capable in the transferable skills of proper infection control and disease screening techniques. On hand to observe the preparedness drill were UM President Donna E. Shalala and Dean Nilda (Nena) Peragallo Montano, both public health experts.

“This simulation scenario takes infection control from an abstract concept to a concrete learning experience,” Peragallo Montano said. “We are using a real-world situation, the Ebola epidemic, and turning it into a teachable moment for our students. Everything they are learning is absolutely generalizable to prevention of other hospital-acquired infections, which are a public health issue.”

The exercise evaluated the students’ patient-screening, clinical decision-making, and infection control skills, as well as their ability to interact with emergency first responders who transferred suspected Ebola patients. To help achieve this last aim, City of Coral Gables firefighters worked in tandem with the students. The fire department utilized the practice run to exercise its own protocols for transferring people suspected of having Ebola to local hospital emergency rooms. Both students and firefighters practiced “donning and doffing” protective equipment using specifically established steps to avoid contamination.


“Patients” who exhibit some of the symptoms of Ebola wait to be screened.

According to the World Health Organization, 50 percent of the people infected with Ebola die. People contract the deadly disease via direct contact with an infected person’s blood and body fluids. Due to their close contact with patients during diagnosis and treatment, health care personnel are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Directing the simulation activity was SONHS faculty member Summer DeBastiani, a disaster preparedness expert who came to UM this past fall from the CDC Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

“A simulation like this is the last step in a process that provides students with the education needed to handle a specific situation,” DeBastiani explained. “Before the drill, we prepared the students with informational lectures on the history of the West Africa Ebola outbreak, signs and symptoms of Ebola, its treatment and epidemiological management, as well as CDC and Miami-Dade County protocols and guidelines for protection of health care providers caring for persons under investigation for Ebola. All current senior nursing students at our school will complete this training before graduating.”

The simulation was developed using the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program method, a capability-based exercise methodology that allows for different disaster response personnel to work together to exercise plans and protocols. At a post-event debriefing session, known in emergency preparedness jargon as a “hot wash,” participants discussed lessons learned during the exercise. The feedback will be used to develop the After-Action Report and inform the next disaster simulation activity.



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Researcher Awarded $3.3 Million Grant to Reduce Teen Pregnancy through Gaming

Special to UM News

NORRIS_2014CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 2, 2014)—The National Institute of Nursing Research has awarded a five-year (2014-2019), $3.3 million grant to an investigator at the School of Nursing and Health Studies to support an innovative program aimed at reducing teen pregnancy and the risk of sexually transmitted infections among Latina adolescents. Professor Anne Norris will utilize “Mighty Girls,” a novel intervention that uses cutting-edge technology to create a highly interactive video game which provides live, realistic simulation of peer pressure. Players talk directly with avatars as they would with their peers, and in this way practice building evidence-based communication skills for resisting peer pressure.

“U.S. teen pregnancy rates among the overall population have been declining for years but are still high among Latinas,” explains Norris, “and the costs are considerable. Besides the profound and unmeasurable effect of unwanted pregnancy on the physical and emotional health of the teenager and her family, there are quantifiable associated socioeconomic costs. For example, lost tax revenue resulting from decreased maternal educational attainment and productivity has been estimated at $3.2 billion. However, in addition to preventing unwanted pregnancy and reducing socioeconomic costs, Mighty Girls empowers young girls to ‘use their voices to make wise choices.’ What is most exciting about this funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research is the opportunity it provides to make a positive difference in the lives of young Latinas and to use rigorous research methods to demonstrate the value of this difference.”

Norris and her colleagues tested Mighty Girls in a previous R15 feasibility trial and found the results encouraging. The current study, funded under the NINR’s R01 mechanism, will be conducted with seventh-grade Latinas enrolled in 20 middle schools in Miami-Dade County. The study is a collaborative effort involving Guillermo Prado of the Miller School of Medicine, Eileen Smith of the Institute for Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and nationally and internationally renowned investigators in the fields of communication science, public health, and economics.

Norris and her interdisciplinary team will follow the girls into ninth grade, a period in which risky behaviors typically increase. Half of the schools will be randomly assigned to receive the experimental intervention in addition to standard in-school sex education, while the other half will receive the standard in-school sex education. Mighty Girls’ inclusion of peer-pressure resistance strategies that do not jeopardize friendships makes the program highly acceptable to girls of this age group.

“It is exciting that with NINR funding we are bringing a promising intervention to one of our community’s most vulnerable populations,” said School of Nursing and Health Studies Dean Nilda (Nena) Peragallo Montano. “The model incorporates Latino values in its techniques. We have found that you have to approach a population you want to help from the framework of its own values, and Mighty Girls does this.”


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UM Receives $1 Million to Train Healthcare Scientists

CORAL GABLES, Fla.  (October 1, 2014)The National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities has awarded the School of Nursing and Health Studies more than $1 million over five years to educate a new generation of health disparities scientists.

The grant will support a training program to identify promising minority undergraduate students in nursing, public health, and health sciences and provide them with eight-week global research training experiences at global partner institutions in Chile, the Dominican Republic, Spain, and Australia. Each participating student will be paired with a faculty mentor drawn from one of five institutions of higher healthcare education in the four participating countries. The foreign mentors represent an exceptional group of educators and scientists from medicine, nursing, public health, and psychology.

Funded under the NIMHD’s Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) mechanism, the initiative’s ultimate goal is to help create a culturally competent healthcare workforce. This is crucial because of the current dearth of Hispanic, black, and Native American researchers in health professions.

“The Global Health Disparities Research Experience will give undergraduates from underrepresented populations exciting opportunities to assist internationally renowned researchers with their grant projects,” said Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda, the study’s principal investigator. “It will enable these students to see the concepts they are learning in class come alive, and expose them to how science is conducted in different cultures and with populations other than their own. Most importantly, it will allow them to see themselves as tomorrow’s health disparities scientists.”

Dean Nilda (Nena) Peragallo said the School of Nursing and Health Studies is proud that NIH/NIMHD’s support allows the school to engage future researchers at the undergraduate level. “It is central to the mission of our school to help talented students from diverse backgrounds advance within the education and research pipeline,” she said. “We are developing the scientists whose work will decrease and ultimately eliminate health disparities.”


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Grant Will Help Increase Nurse Practitioners in Miami-Dade

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 1, 2014)—The School of Nursing and Health Studies has received a $700,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Advanced Education Nurse Traineeship (HRSA AENT) competitive grant program to provide critically needed support to students enrolled in the school’s Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care programs. The HRSA AENT program is designed to increase the number of advanced education nurses trained to practice as primary care providers by providing funding for tuition, books, and living expenses to students seeking their Master of Science in Nursing degrees and FNP or adult nurse practitioner (NP) certifications.

“The financial challenges presented when pursuing advanced-level nursing education are insurmountable for many students, forcing them to either abandon their goal of NP training or drop from full-time to part-time status so they can continue working to earn an income,” said Todd Ambrosia, associate dean for master’s programs and principal investigator of the funded project. “This award will significantly relieve that burden and accelerate their graduation, increasing the number of nurse practitioners to help meet the growing need for primary care providers in Miami-Dade County.”

The number of applicants to the school’s FNP and adult-gerontology primary care NP programs has tripled over the past five years, while the advent of health care reform and a decline in the primary care physician workforce are straining an already taxed primary care system. This nationwide crisis is acutely felt in Miami-Dade County, where the number of family practice physicians is only half that of the rest of the state and the 30 percent uninsured rate ranks well above the national average.

“While we are fortunate to live in a region that is culturally diverse, the burden of chronic diseases and their associated risk factors are greater among minorities,” explained Dean Nilda (Nena) Peragallo Montano. “The HRSA funding is timely and will help us prepare advanced practice nurses, many from minority groups themselves, to meet the complex health care needs and address serious health disparity gaps in Miami-Dade County.”

The Institute of Medicine’s landmark 2010 report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which UM President Donna E. Shalala led, noted that as millions more patients access health care services in the transformed health care system, nurse practitioners will play a prominent role in providing safe, high-quality primary care. The new HRSA AENT funds will help the SONHS build those competencies and bring more advanced practice nurses into the profession by providing tuition stipends of $22,000 per year to students who enroll full-time and $10,000 to those who enroll part-time in the FNP and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care programs.

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