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School of Nursing Answers ''What It Means to Be a Nurse''

Policymakers were given a better understanding of nursing's role in health care science and delivery, including a hands-on demonstration of sophisticated simulators used to educate students at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. The simulation exercise was but one part of a special program held Oct. 26 for legislators and other state and city officials.

The program, "What It Means to Be a Nurse," drew nearly two dozen participants who were briefed on the demands of advanced scientific preparation needed for an increasingly specialized, complex health care system. The attendees included Del. Susan Krebs, District 9B, who says the presentations on "the different levels of nursing and nursing degrees" clarified the breadth and depth of the profession and "how in practice, all those different levels of nursing come together."

Organized by Jillian Aldebron, JD, MA, the School's chief of staff, the program explored the unique importance of nursing in safeguarding the wellbeing of populations and its potential to assume the vanguard of health care reform. One way to address the nation's highly-publicized shortfall in the delivery of primary care, for example, is to recognize the value of advanced practice nurses, who are trained in specialties such as pediatric nurse practitioner and nurse anesthetist.

"The solution is right in our own backyard. We don't have to spend money. All we have to do is allow nurse practitioners to practice to the full scope of their education," said Aldebron.

"There are 3,100 solutions to the primary care shortage in Maryland," participants were told in a reference to the number of board-certified nurse practitioners in the state.

The simulation brought participants such as Gareth Murray, PhD, director of legislative affairs for the Maryland Higher Education Commission, and Latasha Gresham-James, BS, representing the Office of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, to the bedside of a mythical patient. The simulated elderly man, named Vern Watkins, required chest compressions and intubation when he developed a pulmonary embolism during the course of the increasingly stressful exercise.

Overseeing the role-playing, which included a simulated baby in an adjoining bed, was Regina Twigg, MS, RN, director of the School's 24 Clinical Simulation Laboratories.

"What we created today was similar to what goes on in an ER or an ICU," Twigg said.

Capping the program was a behind-the-scenes overview of health reform legislation by Suzanne Begeny, PhD, RN, director of government affairs at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. She spoke of the importance of advocacy to gain greater federal support of nursing education to solve the nation's workforce shortage.

Posting Date: 10/26/2009
Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
Contact Phone: 410-706-7946
Contact Email: pfanning@umaryland.edu