Vital Record » Nursing https://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Tue, 26 Aug 2014 21:44:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Stepping away from the textbook: A team-based approach to medicine https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=stepping-away-from-the-textbook-a-team-based-approach-to-medicine https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=stepping-away-from-the-textbook-a-team-based-approach-to-medicine#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:29:02 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21132 As our health care system is transforming, it is important that the way we teach our future health care professionals transforms as well. Interprofessional education and team-based medicine are at the center of a growing movement of collaborative training among health professions students]]>
Teaching health professions students how to work and communicate together is a vital part of preparing them for real world experiences.

Teaching health professions students how to work and communicate together is a vital part of preparing them for real world experiences.

A mother rushes into the emergency department (ED), panic stricken by her infant’s high fever. Nurses console her, gathering what information she is able to relay, triage the child and order necessary testing. Pending those results, the ED physician wastes no time prescribing the necessary medication to stabilize the infant, the dosage of which a pharmacist calculates quickly and with precision—knowing that every milligram is crucial and too much can have potentially fatal consequences.

At every point, these professionals have to be cognizant of what the others are doing. Communication between the nurses, physicians and pharmacists has to be clear and efficient, because every second matters and any mistake could have severe repercussions.

Just reading about this scene would likely cause any parent’s pulse to race, but the good news is that this particular case resulted in a positive outcome for everyone involved. Featuring pharmacy, nursing and medical students, the neonatal sepsis simulation mentioned above is just one of the carefully staged scenarios conducted in the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Clinical Learning Resource Center, a 27,000-square-foot, realistic hospital setting equipped with the latest tools and technology to enhance learning. The idea behind such multi-disciplinary simulations is simple, but vital: incorporate a team medicine approach to learning so health professions students are amply prepared for the realities of today’s health care setting.

“Team medicine is a concept that everyone—nurses, physicians and pharmacists—must employ in this day and age. Each health professional brings all of their knowledge, their specific understanding and training to the table, for the care of the patient,” said Jim Donovan, M.D., vice dean at the Texas A&M College of Medicine in Round Rock.

As research continues to show that issues with communication have a direct correlation with medical errors, interprofessional education, which is the method behind the team medicine approach to learning, is evolving as a medical education trend across the nation.

“Interprofessional education brings more of the ‘real world experiences’ into students’ training. It allows them to learn more about different disciplines so that they can work together efficiently and appreciate one another’s skills,” said Mary Chavez, Pharm.D., interim vice dean and chair of pharmacy practice at Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy. “With this newfound perspective on the bigger picture of patient care, providers can leverage collaborative knowledge to enhance outcomes.”

Traditionally, health professions curricula were taught in a fairly siloed approach, where students learned the fundamentals of a specific discipline, but gained limited knowledge of other’s functions in a real-world health care setting. Collaborative learning is aimed at breaking down those barriers and providing students with an understanding of the different training each profession undergoes, while simultaneously teaching students how to communicate clearly with one another.

“Before the idea of interprofessional education emerged, the first time that nurses, pharmacists and physicians interacted with each other was in the field—and they had no previous experience to draw upon as they quickly tried to learn how best to work together,” said Jerry Livingston, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Nursing. Livingston helps coordinate Texas A&M Health Science Center’s annual Disaster Day, an event that brings together nursing, medical and pharmacy students in a simulated disaster.

Disaster Day prepares students for a challenge they may encounter during their health careers, teaching them how to handle a high volume of patients and communicate effectively in a high-stakes environment

Disaster Day prepares students for a challenge they may encounter during their health careers, teaching them how to handle a high volume of patients and communicate effectively in a high-stakes environment.

Similar to staged simulation sessions in the Clinical Learning Resource Center, Disaster Day provides students with a realistic disaster that will broaden their scope of training. While extreme, the yearly event prepares students for a challenge they may encounter during their health careers, teaching them how to handle a high volume of patients and communicate effectively in a high-stakes environment.

Kept secret until the day of the event, the disaster scenario is almost exclusively selected and prepared for by students. While faculty members are present during the event, they take more of an observatory role, allowing students to evaluate and care for patients on their own.

“It allows students from different disciplines to become comfortable communicating with each other, because ultimately that is what they’ll have to do in their future careers,” Livingston stated. “If one student is concerned about the safety of a patient, they need to be able to communicate that concern in an effective manner to both the patient and the other health professionals who are onsite.”

While mock emergency simulations are obvious examples of interdisciplinary education, they are far from the only efforts to promote collaborative learning among disciplines. The Texas A&M College of Nursing offers a TeamSTEPPS elective, which stands for Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety. Developed by the military, TeamSTEPPS teaches students effective and efficient ways to remember common hospital procedures, such as transferring a patient, and tactics for effectively communicating with others.

There is no doubt that interprofessional education and team medicine will play a greater role in the future of health care. “Interprofessional training is a trend of the future that needs to happen,” Chavez stated. “Many institutions are recognizing the importance and benefit of training students of various professions together from early on and there has been a greater push for including more collaborative learning opportunities in curricula. In fact, many licensing boards are now encouraging schools to implement interprofessional education.”

Some lessons simply can’t be taught in the textbooks, like how to work together to improve patient outcomes.  Future Aggie health care professionals are being taught the collaborative real-world skills they need to excel before entering the workforce. “Frankly, medicine has always been a team sport,” said Donovan. “And the most effective physicians, nurses and pharmacists have always recognized the importance of working together. If they can’t practice as a team during education, how can we expect them to do that on real-world playing fields—hospitals and clinics around the nation?”

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5 tips to get back to school with less stress https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=5-tips-to-get-back-to-school-with-less-stress https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=5-tips-to-get-back-to-school-with-less-stress#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 19:31:20 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21047 Parents can help ease the transition back to school with these simple strategies]]>

Back-to-school is an exciting time to start a new grade, reconnect with old friends and make new ones, and begin new classes, but it can also lead to anxiety for some children, as fears can creep in and stress can take the fun out of this exciting time.

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Mary Kathryn Sanders, M.S.N., RN, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, explains that back-to-school stress can affect both mental and physical health.

While fears during childhood are fairly common – like a fear of the dark, or not fitting in and being bullied – stress and anxiety can take a real emotional toll on children if not managed properly.

Mary Kathryn Sanders, M.S.N., RN, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, explains that stress can affect both mental and physical health, and that the two are intertwined.

“This can be a very demanding time and parents can really help their children by supporting both physical and emotional well-being.” Sanders said. “Good physical health can help alleviate the symptoms of emotional stress.”

Parents can help ease the transition back to school with some simple strategies:

  1. Establish a consistent bedtime routine, and transition from “summer sleep patterns” to “school sleep patterns” before the school year begins. Adequate sleep will help your child to focus and be less irritable during the transition.
  2. Plan healthy, easy to fix lunches for school to reduce stress on parents and last-minute unhealthy meal choices.
  3. Develop a routine at home that includes breakfast every day and a consistent time for homework or after school activities.
  4. Review hygiene tips with your child to avoid illness – washing hands, not sharing food or drink, keeping objects out of his or her mouth and covering sneezes. Illnesses can increase stress for both children and parents.
  5. Schedule an appointment with your provider for a physical and review of immunizations.

If you have a child with special medical needs, make an appointment to talk with the school nurse before the start of the school year and have a plan in place to care for your child.

“If your district does not have a school nurse, inquire as to who will be responsible for your child’s health during school time and their qualifications,” Sanders says. “Be sure to introduce yourself and make sure they have your most up-to-date contact information.”

Sanders suggests keeping an open line of communication with your child, and watch for warning signs that your child may be experiencing excessive stress. The following warning signs may signal that back-to-school jitters have developed into something more:

  • Frequent stomach pains or headache
  • Changes in sleep patterns or nightmares
  • Bedwetting (in a child who has previously not had accidents)
  • Change in eating habits
  • Aggressive or stubborn behavior
  • Withdrawal or reluctance to participate in activities
  • Regression to earlier behaviors
  • Trouble concentrating or performing in school

If you recognize any of these signs in your child, make an appointment to talk with the school counselor or school nurse. Serious concerns about your child’s health, physical or psychological, should be discussed with your pediatrician or other health care provider. Additionally, there may also be physical causes for these symptoms, which need to be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

For more information, the National Association of School Nurses has created this back-to-school family check list: https://www.nasn.org/portals/0/resources/BacktoSchoolChecklistFamily_2014.pdf

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Co-sleeping infant deaths on the rise, parents must weigh risks https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=co-sleeping-infant-deaths-on-the-rise-parents-must-weigh-risks https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=co-sleeping-infant-deaths-on-the-rise-parents-must-weigh-risks#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:59:08 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20909 Parenting requires daily decisions, some small, some large. From which brand of diapers to use to whether or not to breastfeed, decisions about the health and care of your newborn can be downright overwhelming. A rise in infant deaths related to co-sleeping has added yet another important decision to parents’ plates: What’s the best sleep routine for my baby? ]]>

Parenting requires daily decisions, some small, some large. From which brand of diapers to use to whether or not to breastfeed, decisions about the health and care of your newborn can be downright overwhelming. A rise in infant deaths related to co-sleeping has added yet another important decision to parents’ plates: What’s the best sleep routine for my baby?

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A rise in infant deaths related to co-sleeping has added yet another important decision to parents’ plates: What’s the best sleep routine for my baby?

Co-sleeping, or bed-sharing, refers to a caregiver sleeping in the same bed as an infant and is widely practiced in many cultures around the world, including the United States. Benefits such as easy access for mother and child to breastfeed during the night, improved caregiver sleep, and increased bonding between caregiver and infant have been cited as reasons for co-sleeping. However, new research shows that co-sleeping increases an infant’s risk of death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes, such as accidental suffocation.

“Like many behaviors of parents, co-sleeping has a polarizing effect,” said Alison Pittman, M.S.N., RN, CPN, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. “One of the biggest reasons given for co-sleeping is an increased ease in nighttime feedings, particularly while breastfeeding, but it comes with a risk.”

Data from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) shows that co-sleeping deaths in Texas are set to surpass the previous state record. In 2011, 174 children died while co-sleeping. In the first 10 months of this fiscal year, Child Protective Services reported investigating 164 cases of children who died while sharing a bed or other sleep surface with an adult or older child.

Most of these deaths involved children who were less than a year old. The exact cause of the majority of these reported deaths remain unknown; however, TDFPS notes that the deaths may have been prevented by giving babies “room to breathe” when they sleep. Despite associated risks, a recent study found that the number of U.S. caregivers sharing beds with infants has more than doubled in the last 17 years, from six percent to 13.5 percent.

With 15 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, Pittman has seen first-hand the consequences of suffocation and other related life-threatening events.

“As with any decision made concerning a child’s health, it is imperative to consult your child’s physician,” Pittman said. “Many caregivers who want to sleep near their infants will place the baby in a crib alongside the bed to keep the baby close, but minimize the risk.”

This concept of “room sharing,” or placing infants in the same room as the caregiver, but not the same bed, is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Additionally, the TDFPS suggests that parents follow the ABC’s of Infant Sleep, which include infants sleeping alone, on their backs without blankets or bedding, in a crib, and in a cool (70 degrees), smoke-free environment.

Pittman explains that while SIDS remains an unexplained cause of death, there are certain risk factors that link SIDS with accidental suffocation. The following recommendations can reduce SIDS and accidental suffocation whether co-sleeping or not:

  • Use a firm sleep surface such as a safety-approved crib covered with a fitted sheet.
  • Remove any soft bedding, pillows, blankets, crib bumpers, and stuffed animals that may interfere with a child’s ability to breathe freely.
  • Secondhand smoke should be avoided completely.
  • Babies should sleep on their backs.
  • Do not overdress an infant or keep the child’s sleeping environment too warm to avoid overheating

“If you’re still unsure about what is best for your family, compromise and practice ‘room sharing’ to keep the baby within an arms reach, but in their own safe space,” Pittman said.

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College of Nursing helps fill primary care gap with launch of new Family Nurse Practitioner program https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-fills-primary-care-gap-with-launch-of-new-family-nurse-practitioner-program-2 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-fills-primary-care-gap-with-launch-of-new-family-nurse-practitioner-program-2#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:41:54 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20835 The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing has announced plans for a Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (M.S.N.-FNP) graduate program]]>
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The M.S.N.-FNP was recently approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and is expected to launch in January 2015, pending final approval from the Texas Board of Nursing.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing has announced plans for a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (M.S.N.-FNP) graduate program. This program was recently approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and is expected to launch in January 2015, pending final approval from the Texas Board of Nursing.

The United States health care system is currently facing a shortage of primary care physicians. This shortage, coupled with a growing aging population and the entrance of newly insured individuals (through federal legislation), will increase the demand for primary care services. The physician shortage is of particular importance in Texas where the state falls below the national average with just 165 physicians for every 100,000 individuals.

“In an effort to alleviate this shortage, our family nurse practitioner program will produce nurses who can provide primary, acute and specialty health care,” said Texas A&M College of Nursing Dean Sharon A. Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF. “Our graduates will be competent and dedicated practitioners responsible for managing the care of families with a holistic approach that emphasizes both care and cure through cutting-edge science.”

“Like registered nurses, nurse practitioners perform thorough assessments, but in addition have the training to diagnose patients, prescribe treatments and medications, and assume primary responsibility for patients’ overall care. Nurse practitioners, together with physicians, pharmacists, and public health professionals, are all essential pieces of the solution to our nation’s primary care challenges,” said Brett P. Giroir, M.D., CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

In recognition of the value of nurse practitioners, there has been an increase in job opportunities for nurses with M.S.N.-FNP degrees. Currently, about 190,000 nurse practitioners practice in the United States. Looking ahead, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there will be approximately 37,100 new job openings in the field by 2022.

“Patients are more likely to see a nurse practitioner than they were a decade ago,” said Wilkerson. “While they are part of the health care team, their independence is evolving and they are gaining more autonomy. Many insurance providers now allow nurse practitioners to be listed as the primary care provider.”

Another way nurse practitioners fill the gap in primary care is by working in locations lacking adequate access to health care. Nurse practitioners have a greater tendency to practice in traditionally underserved areas compared to other primary care providers. In fact, in some rural areas a nurse practitioner may be the only provider available.

Wilkerson explained that the mission of the College of Nursing is about much more than just producing more family nurse practitioners, it’s about bettering the care available to patients. “We are not simply preparing nurses for certification, but creating nurses with the critical thinking skills to deliver the best possible patient care,” she said.

The M.S.N.-FNP lecture courses will be delivered online, with full and part-time options, allowing students to balance career, family and other responsibilities while advancing their education. All students will have patient care curriculum as well, which will be performed under the supervision of qualified faculty preceptors at or near their home locations.

Those interested in applying must have a baccalaureate degree in nursing from an institution of higher education accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting agency and either National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). A current, unencumbered Registered Nurse license to practice in the State of Texas or licensed in the state where practicums will occur is also required.

Prospective students can visit nursing.tamhsc.edu for more information and to connect with an advisor.

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Dean Wilkerson assumes presidency of the Texas Organization of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Education https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=dean-wilkerson-assumes-presidency-of-the-texas-organization-of-baccalaureate-and-graduate-nursing-education https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=dean-wilkerson-assumes-presidency-of-the-texas-organization-of-baccalaureate-and-graduate-nursing-education#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:59:16 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20574 Sharon Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, assumed the presidency of the Texas Organization of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Education. ]]>

2014_Wilkerson_Sharon_FORWEBSharon Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF, dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, today assumed the presidency of the Texas Organization of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Education (TOBGNE).

TOBGNE was created to enhance the preparation of entry-level and advanced practice nurses in Texas through the promotion of collaborative and facilitative relationships among Texas institutions involved with nursing education at institutions of higher learning. TOBGNE seeks to promote the health of Texas through excellence in nursing education, provide access to educational opportunities, and expand the integrity and harmony of spirit of the profession.

The vision of the organization is for Texas nursing education institutions to actively work together in the interest of vitalizing, sustaining and advancing nursing education across the state, and attract the best and brightest to the nursing profession from the diverse Texas population.

Wilkerson has served as president elect of TOBGNE since 2012 and has dedicated a 30-year career to undergraduate and graduate professional nursing education.

Wilkerson was appointed founding dean of the Texas A&M College of Nursing in 2008. During her time with the college, she successfully developed the college’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) and Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) programs and is currently working to provide additional graduate education programs in the near future.

Prior to her time with the college, Wilkerson served various roles with Texas A&M Corpus Christi College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Purdue University School of Nursing, Indiana University and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan.

“This is such a prestigious honor because TOBGNE is really the voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education in the state of Texas,” said Cathy Hansen, M.S.N, RN, CNE, assistant dean of undergraduate studies and interim associate dean of academic affairs with the Texas A&M College of Nursing. “It reflects her career-long devotion to the profession and her vision for the future of our college throughout the state.”

In addition to her new role with TOBGNE, Wilkerson also serves on committees and boards at the state and national level. She is president of the Texas League for Nursing, serves on the inaugural board for development of the affiliate constituency organization of the National League for Nursing, and currently serves as chair of the baccalaureate conference program planning committee for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

For more information about the Texas Organization of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Education, visit http://tobgne.org/ .

 

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Research shows relationships are key to quality of life with multiple sclerosis https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=research-shows-relationships-are-key-to-quality-of-life-with-multiple-sclerosis https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=research-shows-relationships-are-key-to-quality-of-life-with-multiple-sclerosis#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 15:28:34 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20477 Nursing faculty member found that if a health care provider-patient relationship was based on mutual respect and collaborative decision-making, it was more likely to ensure effective health outcomes and an improved quality of life. ]]>
photo of nursing student talking to older patient

For patients with multiple sclerosis, a holistic approach to treatment is key.

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects much more than the body. It takes more than treating the disease to help a patient, it requires treating the entire person.

Chronic diseases, especially those as severe as multiple sclerosis, can greatly impact the mental status of patients and their overall quality of life. It is this idea of “quality of life” that Brian Holland, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Nursing, seeks to understand and improve through nursing research.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that can negatively affect the physical, emotional, and social aspects of patients’ lives. Medical treatment regimens often focus on physical symptom management and overlook other factors that can negatively influence quality of life. Holland’s recent doctoral dissertation examined the relationships between health care providers and patients.

The most important finding in Holland’s study was the link between perceived health care provider engagement and patient quality of life. Holland found that if a health care provider-patient relationship was based on mutual respect and collaborative decision-making, it was more likely to ensure effective health outcomes and an improved quality of life.

“What we see is that the more empowered patients feel, the more they will adhere to treatment regimens and ultimately experience an improved quality of life,” Holland said. “This is extremely important for patients of chronic diseases because the patient is so instrumental in their decision-making and long-term treatment management.”

Holland explains that multiple sclerosis can often result in feelings of loss of control. His research findings suggest that the more engaging a patient’s relationship with their health care providers, and the more personalized that relationship is, the more empowered patients feel and thus, improve overall health outcomes.

So what makes a good relationship? Holland found that since multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects everyone differently, care must be personalized to provide the greatest benefit. Many individuals experience depression, anxiety and social isolation related to the disease, and stress in employment and social settings due to physical limitations and symptoms like incontinence, which can make the disease seem more unbearable.

“The best treatment includes addressing all of these issues through care that is tailored to the patient’s specific needs,” Holland said. “A holistic approach involves personalizing the patient’s care. Listening and incorporating them into the decision making process is very important, as well as maximizing health services.”

Holland says that nurses are particularly well positioned to improve these relationships by promoting effective engagement. Not only can nurses serve as liaisons between the physician and the patient, but can facilitate the transfer of information to the patient.

“It’s a revolving circle of behavior,” said Holland. “A better provider-patient relationship leads to better treatment adherence, which leads to better quality of life, which fosters improved health outcomes – and it all goes back to a better provider-patient relationship.”

In the next phase of his research, Holland will expand his focus on improving health outcomes by enhancing the relationship between patients and their health care providers. He plans to identify and target factors that could serve as the basis of educational programs for healthcare providers caring for those with multiple sclerosis. He said that further research is also needed to gain a greater understanding of what specific factors increase the transfer of quality information from the health care provider to the patient.

It is in this capacity that nursing research is particularly instrumental. Fostering comprehensive, caring relationships is one of the main goals of nursing, and basing that care on research can broaden the reach of academic nursing across populations.

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Texas A&M Health Science Center graduates largest nursing class to-date https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-health-science-center-graduates-largest-nursing-class-to-date https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-health-science-center-graduates-largest-nursing-class-to-date#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 18:41:59 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20251 The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing graduated its largest class to-date on Friday, May 16. The college held commencement ceremonies for 123 students with Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees at Rudder Auditorium on the Texas A&M University campus]]>

The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing graduated its largest class to-date on Friday, May 16. The college held commencement ceremonies for 123 students with Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees at Rudder Auditorium on the Texas A&M University campus.

This is the largest class of graduates for the College of Nursing and representative of the college’s growing commitment to providing more baccalaureate nurses for the state of Texas.Nursing grads

The ceremony began with a welcome by Dean Sharon Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, followed by stage party introductions by Brett P. Giroir, M.D., executive vice president and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

Commencement speaker Cyndy Dunlap, RN, MPA, NEA-BC, FACHE, the system Chief Nurse Executive at Baylor Scott &White Memorial Hospital in Temple, spoke about the growing importance of the nursing profession and graduates’ pursuit of success in their career paths.

“You are the first official nursing class to rightfully say that you are a Texas A&M Aggie,” Dunlap said to graduates. “ Live your role with a passion.”

The College of Nursing also presented several awards during the ceremony.
Graduate Helen Cooley, of Midland, TX, was honored with the Advancing the Profession Award, which recognizes a graduating RN-to-B.S.N. student who has shown exceptional growth, creativity and scholarship in the program.

The Community Service Champion Award was presented to graduate Elise Bockoven, of Plano, TX. The awardrecognizes a graduate who has shown outstanding service to the college, the nursing profession and the community.

Graduate Lauren Haire, of Salado, TX, was honored with the Emerging Professional Award. The award is presented to a graduate who demonstrates exemplary professionalism, both in the classroom and in the clinical setting, as well as through participation in student organizations and in service on College committees.

The Dean’s Excellence Award was awarded to graduate Margaret Salzer, of Alvin, TX and to graduate Kenzie Stucki, of Canadian, TX. The award is presented to a\one or two graduates who have reflected the philosophy of the college by a commitment to knowledge, discovery, and service and must rank in the top 25 percent of the class.

The W.F. (Boy) and Johnnie Hasskarl Humanism in Nursing Award was presented to graduate Rosalie Wright, of Cameron, TX. The award is named in honor of Dr. W.F. (Boy) Hasskarl and his wife, Johnnie, who lived in and served the Brenham community for over 90 years. With this award, the Board of Directors of the Hospice Brazos Valley Living Endowment joins the Hasskarl family in honoring Dr. and Mrs. Hasskarl for their service to others. This award honors not only the Hasskarls, but the College of Nursing graduate that exemplifies who exemplifies compassionate, humanistic care and exceptional competency in the art of nursing. In addition to recognition during commencement, the student will receive a plaque and monetary gift.

CON nursing gradsThe Gathright Award was awarded to graduate Kimberly Veazey, of College Station, TX. The award is given by the Association of Former Students in conjunction with the Texas A&M Student Government Association to the senior with the highest grade point ratio from each college. The award was established in 1973 and is named in honor of the university’s first president

A reception in the Rudder Exhibit Hall followed.

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Is it a food sensitivity or a life-threatening allergy? https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=is-it-a-food-sensitivity-or-a-life-threatening-allergy https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=is-it-a-food-sensitivity-or-a-life-threatening-allergy#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 21:37:37 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20169 Many people suffer from a food intolerance or sensitivity—meaning they may start to feel bad after eating a certain food, but they don’t have a life threatening reaction. How can you determine if you have a true allergy or a minor sensitivity? ]]>
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How can you determine if you have a true allergy or a minor sensitivity?

Did you know that less than four percent of adults have a true food allergy? But many people do suffer from a food intolerance or sensitivity—meaning they may start to feel bad after eating a certain food, but they don’t have a life threatening reaction. So how can you determine if you have a true allergy or a minor sensitivity?

“A food sensitivity will cause a localized response such as a headache, nausea or other gastrointestinal symptoms,” says Vicky Keys, M.S.N., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. “It’s uncomfortable, but not life threatening.”

On the other hand, a food allergy activates the body’s immune system at the cellular level and reactions can be life threatening. The body reacts to the food as if it were a foreign invader. Symptoms may occur within one hour of ingesting the offending food. Major culprits include milk, eggs, various nuts, soybeans, wheat, fish, and various shellfish.

A doctor can conduct a food allergy test to determine if you have a true allergy and what you are reacting to. If you are considering an allergy test or suspect that you may have a food intolerance or sensitivity, Keys suggests keeping a detailed food diary to help determine the culprit.

“Because there are multiple allergy tests, keeping a food diary can help you and your physician pinpoint what is causing your discomfort faster,” says Keys.”

Since any number of ingredients could trigger a reaction, keep a record of what you eat, the type of symptoms you experience, and the amount of time between ingestion and your symptoms.

If you have a sensitivity or intolerance, avoidance is the key to managing symptoms. If it is determined that you have a true food allergy, Keys recommends the following strategies to take charge of your safety:

1. Read food labels.

Read the label to make sure there are no traces of your allergen present in the product. This strategy is important even if you have a food sensitivity or intolerance so you can avoid the trigger ingredients.

“Many companies will post if there are other ingredients that the product could have come into contact with,” notes Keys. “There are several ingredients that a single item could have encountered. Even a small trace of your allergen could cause a potential reaction.”

2. Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.

Because you can’t control the environment around you, exposure to harmful allergens could happen at any time. Wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace could help others if you have a life-threatening allergic reaction.

3. Carry an epi-pen or other necessary allergy medicines.

If your health care provider determines you do have a food allergy, they may prescribe you with an epi-pen. If so, they will demonstrate how to use it, and the package insert comes with instructions. You should always carry your allergy medicines and the epi-pen, in case you have a severe allergic reaction.

Make sure someone in your home, work or school knows how to use the epi-pen if you are unable to activate it yourself.

“It’s extremely important to immediately seek medical help if you experience a food reaction, even if you’ve used your epi-pen,” warns Keys. “Anaphylactic shock is life-threatening and can happen very quickly.”

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May is Asthma Awareness Month: A review of the basics https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=may-is-asthma-awareness-month-a-review-of-the-basics https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=may-is-asthma-awareness-month-a-review-of-the-basics#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 17:07:49 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20125 May is “National Asthma Awareness Month,” and with more than 23 million Americans diagnosed with asthma, and 7 million children affected, it’s imperative for parents to take control of their children’s asthma management]]>

May is “National Asthma Awareness Month,” and with more than 23 million Americans diagnosed with asthma, and 7 million children affected, it’s imperative for parents to take control of their children’s asthma management.

While asthma is serious, and can be life-threatening, it can be controlled through medical treatment and the identification of environmental triggers.

Health care provider goes over asthma plan with boy and mother.

Keeping a close relationship with your health care provider will allow you to manage your child’s asthma symptoms and triggers, not react to them.

“Parents not only need to be their children’s health advocate, but also their environmental advocate,” said Rebecca Burns, M.S.N., RN, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. Burns is an expert in pediatric studies and practice, and is experienced in clinical respiratory management. “You might be surprised by the amount of triggers in your own home.”

All parents of children with asthma should have an Asthma Action Plan (AAP). An AAP (also called a management plan) is a written plan that you develop with your doctor to help control your asthma. The AAP shows your child’s daily treatment, such as what kind of medicines to take and when to take them. The plan describes how to control asthma long term and how to handle worsening asthma, or attacks. Most importantly, it explains when to call the doctor or go to the emergency room.

In addition to eliminating triggers, Burns explains that it is necessary to follow medication instructions exactly as they are prescribed. Children should be supervised and educated to ensure they use them properly. If your child has asthma, all of the people who care for him or her should know about the child’s asthma action plan. These caregivers include babysitters and workers at daycare centers, schools and camps. These caretakers can help your child follow his or her action plan.

There are two main types of treatment for asthma: a rescue inhaler or maintenance therapy that includes two inhaled medications, a steroid and a beta-agonist. Though significant lifestyle changes are unnecessary, when proper medication and environmental management are combined, asthma patients can live healthy, active lifestyles.

“If your child is diagnosed with asthma, work closely with the physician to learn what triggers the attacks,” said Burns. “You can’t just give your child medication and expect to see results; you must manage the treatment and the triggers.”

Triggers can be categorized by allergens and irritants. Allergens can be animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, indoor mold, pollen and outdoor molds. Keeping furry and feathered friends out of your home, as well as keeping your home clean and well maintained (fix leaky faucets and use a cleaner with bleach for moldy surfaces) can help reduce indoor allergens.

“If you live in an area with particularly high pollen and outdoor mold, like here in the Brazos Valley, try to keep your windows closed from late morning to midafternoon if possible because this is when pollen and mold spore counts are highest,” explained Burns. “Also, discuss with your child’s doctor whether you should take or increase anti-inflammatory medications before the start of your area’s allergy season.”

Burns also suggests avoiding trigger irritants like tobacco smoke and strong odors. If you smoke, discuss with your own doctor how to help you quit and ask other smokers in your family to quit smoking also. Do not allow smoking in your home or car, or other places your child might spend time. Avoid using fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, or strongly perfumed odors and sprays within your house.

“Essentially, you want to manage your child’s symptoms, not react to them,” said Burns. “Keeping a close relationship with your health care provider and being vigilant about your child’s environment can help keep triggers at bay and your child active and healthy.”

For more information about Asthma Action Plan’s, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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