Vital Record » Nursing http://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Fri, 31 Oct 2014 21:15:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Seton Medical Center Williamson gives $250,000 to support nursing education in Round Rock http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=seton-medical-center-williamson-gives-250000-to-support-nursing-education-in-round-rock http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=seton-medical-center-williamson-gives-250000-to-support-nursing-education-in-round-rock#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:27:49 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21845 Seton Medical Center Williamson presented $250,000 to the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing to support the continued development of the college’s RN-to-B.S.N. and Second Degree programs in Round Rock. This gift brings Seton Medical Center Williamson’s contribution total to more than $1.5 ... ]]>

Seton Medical Center Williamson presented $250,000 to the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing to support the continued development of the college’s RN-to-B.S.N. and Second Degree programs in Round Rock. This gift brings Seton Medical Center Williamson’s contribution total to more than $1.5 million since 2009 and solidifies the goal of both entities to produce the best possible nursing care for Central Texas.

This gift brings Seton Medical Center Williamson’s contribution total to more than $1.5 million since 2009 and solidifies the goal of both entities to produce the best possible nursing care for Central Texas.

This gift brings Seton Medical Center Williamson’s contribution total to more than $1.5 million since 2009 and solidifies the goal of both entities to produce the best possible nursing care for Central Texas.

“We are pleased to present this check and continue to support the Texas A&M College of Nursing,” said Michelle Robertson, President and CEO of the Seton Healthcare Family North Group. “Together, we are collaborating to address the critical nursing shortage and to cultivate leaders in nursing care for this area and the state.”

The donation will allow the College of Nursing to continue the recruitment efforts of prospective nursing professionals, increase enrollment in programs offered in Round Rock and grow student recruitment efforts in Williamson and Bell counties.

It’s been five years since Seton Medical Center Williamson and the Texas A&M College of Nursing joined forces to bring the best in nursing education and care to Williamson County. During the past year, the Round Rock campus increased enrollment in the RN-B.S.N. program by 118 percent. The majority of this increased enrollment came from students who reside in Williamson and Bell counties.

“Seton Medical Center Williamson’s support has had a direct impact on our enrollment growth in Round Rock,” said Sharon A. Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF, dean of the Texas A&M College of Nursing. “We are thankful for the continued support and the enduring relationship we have established with Seton and look forward to enhancing the quality of nursing education together, and providing the best care to area patients, families and friends.”

In fact, two graduates of the program who are now working within the Seton Medical Center received the prestigious DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses in recognition of the care they give to patients and their families.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center opened the Round Rock campus in 2009 and the College of Nursing currently offers the online RN-to-B.S.N. and Second Degree programs at this location. The college also offers Traditional, Second Degree and RN-to-B.S.N. tracts to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) on its Bryan campus. A recent addition includes a new Master of Science in Nursing degree in nursing education. The online program prepares graduates to serve as educators in both the higher education and patient care settings.

Seton Medical Center Williamson, a member of the Seton Healthcare Family and part of Ascension, the nation’s largest nonprofit health system, opened on February 7, 2008, to serve Williamson County’s growing community and to meet the need for more convenient and advanced healthcare services in the area. Seton Williamson is the largest and only faith-based hospital in Williamson County. The Seton RN Residency offers newly licensed registered nurses a multistage transition into a workplace that emphasizes the best care possible, delivered with the dignity and respect every human deserves.

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College of Nursing Alumni receive DAISY Awards http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-alumni-receive-daisy-awards http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-alumni-receive-daisy-awards#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:11:21 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21728 Two Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing alumni recently received the honor of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. The DAISY Award, which stands for diseases attacking the immune system, is a program created to honor the “super human work nurses do for ... ]]>

Two Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing alumni recently received the honor of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. The DAISY Award, which stands for diseases attacking the immune system, is a program created to honor the “super human work nurses do for patients and families every day.”

Two Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing alumni recently received the honor of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

Two Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing alumni recently received the honor of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

Andrew Barner, BSN, RN, Seton Medical Center Williamson Intensive Care Unit, and Tori Branyon, BSN, RN, Seton Medical Center Austin Intermediate Care are both members of the College of Nursing’s 2013 Round Rock Class.

The prestigious DAISY Award is given by the DAISY Foundation to recognize and thank nurses for the gifts they give to patients and families every day. The DAISY Foundation and award were formed in the memory of Patrick Barnes who died at age 33 of complications of a rare autoimmune disorder. The Barnes family was so touched by the kindness and compassion of the nurses who delivered his medical care, that they created the Foundation.

Andrew Barner, BSN, RN, Seton Medical Center Williamson Intensive Care Unit

Andrew Barner, BSN, RN, Seton Medical Center Williamson Intensive Care Unit

“I am honored to be a recipient of the Daisy Award. I strive to put my patients’ needs first and perform patient centered care,” Barner said. “I tell all of my patients that I will treat them as if they were my parents.”

Tori Branyon, BSN, RN, Seton Medical Center Austin Intermediate Care

Tori Branyon, BSN, RN, Seton Medical Center Austin Intermediate Care

Barner and Branyon were presented with a certificate, a pin and a stone sculpture from Zimbabwe named “A Healer’s Touch,” hand carved by members of the Shona tribe, which greatly reveres its healers. The sculptures are made specifically for the DAISY Foundation and are the full-time source of income for 14 members of the tribe.

“It is an honor to be nominated and chosen for a Daisy.” Branyon said. “My aim is to treat each of my patients with compassion, provide them knowledge, and give them a touch of humor to keep things light. To have a ‘thanks’ in the form of this award is truly humbling.”

For more information on the DAISY Foundation, visit http://daisyfoundation.org/

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Colonias Bound: An expedition into preventative health care http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=colonias-bound-an-expedition-into-health-care-preventative-care http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=colonias-bound-an-expedition-into-health-care-preventative-care#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 20:22:06 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21678 This month, the Texas A&M Health Science Center is teaming up with Texas A&M University Colonias Program and Texas A&M International University College of Nursing and heading to the Laredo Colonias to bring both resources and public education to those living in the Texas border communities]]>

Terms like “settlements” and “colonies” are often only used to describe frontier-type communities in history books. But in the case of the Texas Colonias, these descriptions ring true today. These unregulated settlements often lack access to the most basic potable water and sewer services. Per capita annual income is much lower than the state average, sometimes as low as five to six thousand dollars annually, and basic health care is difficult to find, let alone afford.

This month, the Texas A&M Health Science Center is teaming up with Texas A&M University Colonias Program and Texas A&M International University College of Nursing and heading to the Laredo Colonias to bring both resources and public education to those living in the Texas border communities. Ten nursing students will participate as part of a course entitled: Care of Vulnerable Populations. This course helps students understand how best to communicate and treat people who are in situations that make them particularly susceptible to disease and health issues.

This month, the Texas A&M Health Science Center is teaming up with Texas A&M University Colonias Program and Texas A&M International University College of Nursing and heading to the Laredo Colonias to bring both resources and public education to those living in the Texas border communities.

This month, the Texas A&M Health Science Center is teaming up with Texas A&M University Colonias Program and Texas A&M International University College of Nursing and heading to the Laredo Colonias to bring both resources and public education to those living in the Texas border communities.

Why is the Colonias so vulnerable? It’s often said that your history gave you your identity. In the case of the Texas Colonias, this is certainly true. Developers took agriculturally worthless land along the Texas-Mexico border and divided the land into small plots with little to no infrastructure where residents were allowed build piecemeal homes as they could afford materials. The communities lack some of the most basic living necessities.

Robin Page, Ph.D., RN, CNM, director of education at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing Round Rock Campus; Katie Sanders, MSN, RN, clinical assistant professor; and Colleen Neal, MSN, RN, clinical assistant professor will be leading the students on the immersion experience to visit community centers. The nursing students have prepared lessons to present to the communities of the Colonias.

“In addition to speaking at the community centers, they we will be able to visit the Colonias communities in their homes and reach out on a more personal level,” Neal said. “This not only helps us reach directly to these vulnerable populations one-on-one, but also allows our students to fully comprehend the living situations right here in Texas.”

“This is an enormously satisfying opportunity for student nurses to truly see the importance of culturally-sensitive nursing and community outreach,” said Glenda C. Walker, Ph.D., RN, dean College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Dr. F.M. Canseco School of Nursing.  “For many, this is both eye-opening and heart-lifting and several have called the experience transformative.”

The presentations will focus on four areas of intervention: first aid (first aid supplies will be given to participants to take home), bullying, men’s health (particularly cancer screenings), and domestic violence. The College of Nursing is currently dedicated to the research of domestic violence intervention and research in South Texas and in vulnerable populations, specifically.

“This is the first time we will be taking students to Colonias as part of their education,” Sanders said. “But we are really looking forward to expanding the program to go more often, and have more students participate. No matter where our nursing students go to practice, we know this experience will go with them and enhance the quality of life of each patient they come in contact with.”

“I believe, as future nurses, we need to embrace experiences that challenge us to enrich our practice,” said Christine Giammona, Texas A&M College of Nursing second degree student, class of 2015. “I hope to make a difference, in the lives of those within the Colonias community and gain insight to help me provide competent, compassionate care as I continue in my nursing career.”

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Vaccines: Not just for kids http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=vaccines-not-just-for-kids http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=vaccines-not-just-for-kids#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 17:07:51 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21598 Adult vaccinations are valuable and increase in importance the older a person gets, and it’s imperative that adults reexamine their vaccination plans as they age. ]]>

With back-to-school now in the rear-view mirror, we all know the vital importance of children being up-to-date on their vaccinations. But what about adults? Children aren’t the only ones who need vaccines. Adult vaccinations are valuable and increase in importance the older a person gets, and it’s imperative that adults reexamine their vaccination plans as they age.

Adult vaccinations are valuable and increase in importance the older a person gets, and it’s imperative that adults reexamine their vaccination plans as they age.

Adult vaccinations are valuable and increase in importance the older a person gets, and it’s imperative that adults reexamine their vaccination plans as they age.

As children, most people received vaccines that created immunities to infectious diseases that will last a lifetime, but this isn’t true for every immunization. Immunity can fade over the years. Some adults may not have gotten the needed immunizations as children. Vaccine recommendations and vaccinations themselves can change over time, and some vaccines may not have been available during childhood or adolescence.

Additionally, adults who travel overseas or work in professions that put them at risk for infectious diseases need to be more aware of their suggested vaccinations.

All adults are recommended to get the Tdap and influenza vaccines. Tdap – a combination vaccine of pertussis (whooping cough) and Td (tetanus, diphtheria) – is particularly important if it wasn’t received as an adolescent.

“Many people don’t realize that a booster is needed for Tdap every 10 years, and others just forget until they are injured and a health care professional asks when their last tetanus shot was,” said Cindy Weston, DNP, FNP-BC, RN, assistant professor and nurse practitioner at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing.

Tdap is so forgotten or dismissed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2012 that Tdap was only administered in 14.2 percent of adults over the age of 19.

Weston also explained that with the national increase in pertussis, it is highly recommended for women to receive the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant (preferably between 27 and 36 weeks’ gestation). This increases maternal immunity and antibody transfer to the vulnerable newborn. In addition, all adults who will be around infants, such as grandparents or childcare providers, are also recommended to get the booster shot.

Another obvious, but oftentimes overlooked, yearly vaccination for adults is the influenza vaccine. It is particularly important for adult populations susceptible to flu-related complications (pregnant women, elderly and those with chronic health conditions).

“Most adults know that flu shots are important to get each year, but not everyone understands when,” said Kara Jones-Schubart, DNP, FNP-BC, RN, clinical assistant professor and nurse practitioner at the Texas A&M College of Nursing. “It’s best to get it in the fall – before flu season hits.”

Schubart added that while it’s recommended for every adult to get a flu vaccine, it’s most important for adults over 50 to get the vaccine because they are particularly susceptible to complications from infection.

“We are seeing that many patients don’t think they need to be vaccinated if they are healthy, but this isn’t the reality,” Schubart said. “Vaccines aren’t just about keeping yourself healthy, but they also keep diseases from spreading to more susceptible populations.”

Older adults have extra recommendations for vaccinations. Aging can have a detrimental impact on the immune system, leaving this population more prone to illnesses than before – but vaccinations can have an enormous impact on preventing certain devastating diseases.

The zoster vaccine, which protects against shingles, an extremely painful skin disease caused by the varicella zoster virus, has become increasingly important. About one million Americans develop shingles each year, and more than half of these are over the age of 60.

Also, the pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for those over 65 or adults ages 19-64 with certain medical conditions. The vaccine defends against a bacterium that causes meningitis, pneumonia and blood stream infections. This vaccine is actually very important for cigarette smokers in particular.

“Although pneumococcal infections often respond to treatment with antibiotics, early death may occur from the toxins released by the aggressive organism,” Weston said. “The CDC has estimated that 900,000 Americans contract pneumococcal pneumonia each year, with almost 400,000 hospitalizations. Prevention is best through vaccination.”

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is particularly important because someone without symptoms can transmit the bacterium through coughing or sneezing. “The pneumococcal vaccine is a great example of the importance of vaccinations to society, not just the individual,” Schubart said.

So why don’t adults keep up with their vaccines? Weston and Schubart explained that it’s as much about available information as it is about recommendations from their primary care provider. While patients are generally their own best advocates, heath care professionals often have the last word in patient decisions on whether or not to vaccinate.

“As health care providers, nurses and nurse practitioners are in a position to help combat the lack of adult vaccinations,” Weston said. “With the increasing amount of nurse practitioners providing primary care, we can educate our patients about the necessities of vaccines.”

“One of the strongest indicators of a patient receiving an immunization is a recommendation by the provider,” Schubart said.

Schubart explained that there are many things providers can do to increase vaccination rates and the College of Nursing is implementing these in their educational program. Assessing patient immunizations, identifying at-risk patients, educating patients, implementing a reminder system, identifying and utilizing interprofessional team approaches, and also using an immunization registry system can all help improve vaccination rates.

In the end, it’s vitally important for patients to be their own best health care advocates and discuss vaccination options with their health care provider. Understanding which vaccinations are recommended, based upon their age and health situation, requires both education and a conversation with the provider. Additionally, patients should report all vaccinations and ask their health care provider to review immunization records with them.

“Making an informed decision together is the best approach to any health decision,” Weston said. “But one thing is clear: more adults need vaccinations to prevent the spread of potentially serious or even deadly diseases.”

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College of Nursing welcomes international leaders in educational advancement for lecture series http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-to-welcome-international-leaders-for-educational-advancement http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-to-welcome-international-leaders-for-educational-advancement#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 21:27:57 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21401 The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing will welcome two leaders in the advancement and development of higher education online learning and research. ]]>

The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing will welcome two leaders in the advancement and development of higher education online learning and research. Maria Northcote, Ph.D., associate professor in the Faculty of Education, Business, and Science Department of Avondale College of Higher Education and Jack Seddon, Ph.D.(c), Faculty of Education and Arts at Edith Cowen University, will present on various higher education topics Monday, Sept. 29, Tuesday, Sept. 30, and Wednesday Oct. 1 in the Health Professions Education Building (HPEB) on the Texas A&M Health Science Center campus.

The College of Nursing is hosting these lectures as part of a larger initiative of integrating research into teaching practice and developing ways to enhance the education and preparation of health care professionals to improve the delivery of patient care.

The presentations are created to share information across educational fields of higher education, not just those of health care professionals, and the College of Nursing hopes that educators across Texas A&M University will attend and join in the discussion.

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Maria Northcote, Ph.D., associate professor in the Faculty of Education, Business, and Science Department of Avondale College of Higher Education and Jack Seddon, Ph.D.(c), Faculty of Education and Arts at Edith Cowen University, will present on various higher education topics Monday, Sept. 29 and Tuesday, Sept. 30 in the Health Professions Education Building (HPEB) on the Texas A&M Health Science Center campus.

“Today’s educational professionals are feeling the ever-increasing pressure of delivering meaningful instruction to students through new and innovative ways. Additionally, the expectation is that these new approaches will result in improved outcomes that foster student success and all at a rapid pace to reach more students,” said Kevin Gosselin, Ph.D., assistant dean for research and evidence-based practice at the Texas A&M College of Nursing. “These challenges leave little time to consider how we teach and develop as educators.”

Maria Northcote, associate professor in the Faculty of Education, Business, and Science Department at Avondale College of Higher Education is an experienced higher education teacher and researcher. She teaches undergraduate and postgraduate teacher education students in the areas of mathematics education, research methodology and assessment. Maria provides leadership at Avondale in the area of professional development of academic staff focusing on their online teaching skills.

Jack Seddon has worked as a university lecturer and a researcher in online education. During his doctoral studies he investigated the role of reflection in the development of new tertiary teachers’ conceptions of teaching. Using an online tool he developed as part of his study, the Reflective Practice Website, Jack’s study tracked the way new tertiary teachers engaged in reflective practices and the effects this had on their conceptions of teaching.

“Maria Northcote and Jack Seddon’s research focuses on reflection and the professional development of educators with the aim of promoting beneficial outcomes for both educators and the students that they serve,” Gosselin added. “We welcome anyone who is interested to attend.”

Please contact the Texas A&M College of Nursing for more information: 979-436-0132

Lecture times:

Monday, Sept 29
3 – 4 p.m., HPEB LL11A , “The higher education context in Australia” by Maria Northcote
4 – 5 p.m., HPEB LL11A, “Role of reflection in higher education teaching” by Jack Seddon

Tuesday, Sept 30
1 p.m. – 2 p.m., HPEB LL38, “Online and face-to-face professional development: Lessons from facilitating online and face-to-face professional development for teaching staff” by Maria Northcote and Jack Seddon
2:15 pm.- 4:15 pm., HPEB LL38, “Online learning and teaching”

Wednesday, Oct 1
3 – 4 p.m., HPEB LL11A, “Identified threshold concepts in online teaching: Report from a five-year multiphase project” by Maria Northcote and Kevin Gosselin.

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Nurses help patients navigate the maze of fragmented cancer care http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=nurses-help-patients-navigate-the-maze-of-fragmented-cancer-care http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=nurses-help-patients-navigate-the-maze-of-fragmented-cancer-care#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:51:11 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21346 Navigating chemotherapy, pain management, nutrition, finances and insurance can be a complicated journey both during and after treatment, and is a daunting task in an already difficult and exhausting situation]]>

Cancer treatments have changed immensely in the last few decades. Awareness of prevention has increased. Treatments are more effective and aggressive. Screenings have improved in effectiveness and utilization. “Living with cancer” has become a reality for many patients. But navigating chemotherapy, pain management, nutrition, finances and insurance can be a complicated journey both during and after treatment, and is a daunting task in an already difficult and exhausting situation.

“Getting holistic care during cancer treatment requires a great amount of organization, energy and time,” said Maxine Hinze, Ph.D., RN, CNL, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. “Coordinating the many components requires a great amount of knowledge and energy – something that is often difficult for the patient to handle on their own.”

Hinze has experience treating cancer patients as both a nurse and a family member. Three of her immediate family members have been diagnosed with cancer in the past three years. Her personal and professional experiences have enriched each other and inspired her approach to educating the next generation of nurses.

“I’ve seen the battle from both sides of health care and I can say it’s imperative that patients and their families get help to get through the disjointed relationships that make up the process of cancer treatment,” Hinze said. “Cancer care is often fragmented care. No single person sees the complete picture with the exception of the patient, and they may not be equipped to recognize problems and/or solutions.”

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Navigating chemotherapy, pain management, nutrition, finances and insurance can be a complicated journey both during and after treatment, and is a daunting task in an already difficult and exhausting situation.

What is fragmented care? Hinze explains that it’s the segmented community of experts and caretakers involved with treating a cancer patient. Cancer care has become more complicated and challenging to deliver because of changing clinical guidelines, multi-disciplinary approaches to evaluations, specialist coordination, health record data, disparities in information technology use and financial coordination.

“It takes a team to treat cancer – and a person to pull that team together, nurses are often at the center of this,” she said. “We teach our students that, as nurses, they are the last line of defense for patients and they must be holistic providers by being cognizant of what they do and how they do it.”

After all, cancer patients should be focused on fighting for their lives, not fighting a fragmented system. Nurses can help patients through the intricacies of the system and concentrate on what really matters: beating cancer.

The Texas A&M College of Nursing is teaching their students how to help patients manage their own health care. Understanding that cancer treatment treats more than “just cancer” is the first component of this, but also making sure that patients are the most knowledgeable member of their care team by becoming advocates for themselves. Nurses are key to help educate and inform patients and also to act as advocates on the patients’ behalf.

Tying the whole picture together can be difficult; so much so that some hospitals and insurance providers are even hiring “nurse navigators” to help patients through the long process. The fragmented care labyrinth is so demanding that national organizations have formed, like the Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators, which now has more than 5,000 navigator members.

How can patients and their families act as their own advocates? Hinze suggests always having a support person with the patient, and if possible having the same support person throughout the process. “This is an exhausting time, and having someone there with more energy can be a huge help,” she explained. “A support person is necessary not only for emotional and physical support, but for actually getting through the weeds of the system.”

Hinze also suggested going to each appointment armed with a list of written questions. “Whether it’s on a scrap of paper, your phone, a notebook – it doesn’t matter, but writing them down prevents you from forgetting,” Hinze said. “This seems like a simple, even silly thing, but it’s amazing what you can forget when you’re stressed and sitting in front of your physician or nurse.”

In the end, she says, patients need to be the most knowledgeable person about their care and cancer treatment. “We want to teach nurses to educate patients so patients can be their own best advocate and we want to help patients tie that whole picture together,” Hinze said. “As nurses, we want to be part of the solution to fragmented and diverse care.”

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Piecing together the puzzle: Addressing the primary care shortage http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=piecing-together-the-puzzle-addressing-the-primary-care-shortage http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=piecing-together-the-puzzle-addressing-the-primary-care-shortage#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 22:06:21 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21310 Texas A&M Health Science Center is heeding the call to fill the overwhelming primary care gap, not only by producing more primary care physicians and working with partners where possible to develop new residency programs or expand existing ones, but also by extending health care teams through educational programs in nursing and pharmacy and empowering patients through targeted research and outreach programs]]>

It’s no surprise the United States has been facing a shortage of primary care physicians for several years. This shortage, coupled with a growing population, an aging population (physicians included) and the entrance of newly insured individuals following implementation of the Affordable Care Act, will increase the demand for primary care services across the country. In Texas, this demand will likely be even higher since the state currently falls below the national average with just 165 physicians for every 100,000 individuals. In 126 of 254 Texas counties, primary care services are so low that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared these regions Health Professional Shortage Areas.

But why, exactly, are physicians in such short supply? The Texas shortage can be attributed to several factors. First, primary care interest from medical school students has traditionally been relatively low due to low-income potential compared with other specialties, but demand for primary care physicians has gone up. Following implementation of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans who were not previously insured are entering the health care system. The Texas population is outpacing the national growth rate, and more aging Baby Boomers are becoming eligible for Medicare every day. In addition, the prevalence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, is growing, requiring more health care services. And to top it off, about one-third of all doctors plan to retire this decade, but the number of available residency slots hasn’t kept pace with the increase in medical graduates, leaving some graduates in limbo, unable to secure on-the-job training required before they can begin practice.

Texas A&M Health Science Center is heeding the call to fill the overwhelming primary care gap, not only by producing more primary care physicians and working with partners where possible to develop new residency programs or expand existing ones, but also by extending health care teams through educational programs in nursing and pharmacy and empowering patients through targeted research and outreach programs.

Producing more primary care physicians

More than half – 92 out of 157 – of Texas A&M College of Medicine graduates placed in primary care residencies in 2014, well above the national average. In fact, recent studies by the Council on Graduate Medical Education show that fewer than 20 percent of all U.S. medical students are choosing primary care specialties. So, why are future Aggie physicians more attracted to the primary care setting?

“It has a lot to do with the kind of students we recruit,” said Paul Ogden, M.D., interim dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine. “Texas A&M has always possessed a service mentality due to our roots as a land-grant university, and the physicians we train want to serve their patients. They get to interact more with their patients in primary care settings, and they value that service more than the money other specialties can offer.”

Throughout the years, the college has also established key partnerships in rural areas where health care services are in dire need. One such partnership with DeTar Healthcare System recently established a Family Medicine Residency Program in Victoria that addresses the critical need for more primary care physicians in South Texas. The three-year program, which will accept its first six residents in July 2016, and other upcoming partnerships of this nature, will play a key role in the development of a comprehensive physician workforce solution for the state.

However, the problem is not one-dimensional, and medical schools alone cannot fill the growing need for primary care services.

“Fixing the nation’s primary care shortage goes far beyond recruiting and training more primary care doctors,” Ogden said. “The fix isn’t physician-centric, because medical schools simply can’t produce enough physicians to address the need.”

Extending the health care team

To make bigger strides toward closing the gap, the primary care team must be extended with additional nurses and pharmacists, and Texas A&M Health Science Center is doing just that.

The Texas A&M College of Nursing recently announced the creation of a new Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (M.S.N.-FNP) graduate program. The program is expected to launch in January 2015, pending final approval from the Texas Board of Nursing.

The family nurse practitioner program will produce nurses who can provide primary, acute and specialty health care. 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.

Expanding the role of pharmacists is another avenue for filling the rising demand for health care.

“Today, more than ever, pharmacists are likely to be found engaged in conversations with customers, providing information on over-the-counter drugs, administering immunizations, and assisting with overall disease prevention and management, while improving patient medication adherence and outcomes,” said Indra K. Reddy, Ph.D., professor and founding dean of the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy in Kingsville, Texas.

Research shows that patients who work with a team that includes a pharmacist and one or more physicians are more likely to achieve improved health goals. This co-management of the patient with the primary care provider offers more direct, patient-focused care and ultimately, better patient outcomes.

To that end, the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy trains future pharmacists in a variety of health care settings, and oftentimes alongside medical and nursing students in the clinical setting. Fourth-year students complete rotations in community pharmacies, retail pharmacies, clinics and hospitals. Pharmacy students also rotate through the Texas A&M Health Science Center Diabetes Education program in Corpus Christi, Texas, teaching diabetes patients about medication options, insulin administration and medication adherence.

Empowering patients with self-care education

Working with a comprehensive health care team can help improve patient outcomes, but there is one person who has perhaps the most impact on your overall wellness: you.

Researchers at the Texas A&M School of Public Health are working with clinicians to develop programs that educate the public about the importance of self-care in their journey toward overall well-being.

One of the gaps they have identified, both in research and in practice, is the disconnect between what is recommended in the clinical setting and how, or if, patients are implementing those recommendations in their daily lives. These recommendations include becoming more physically active, eating a healthier diet, taking certain medications and incorporating dietary supplements or drinking more water.

To help bridge that gap, the school has developed evidence-based, chronic disease self-management programs and fall prevention programs to educate patients on how to take control of their own health. The goal is to keep people healthy so they don’t have to see their primary care provider often or utilize the emergency room, which should help alleviate congestion of those services.

The school currently offers chronic disease self-management, fall prevention, physical activity and nutrition, stress management and medication management programs in the Brazos Valley region of Texas. Partnerships have also been formed with the Texas Falls Prevention Coalition, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services and the Texas Department of State Health Services to build programs in other parts of the state.

“We are helping to build upon and expand the reach of clinicians by going beyond the clinic walls and into the community, engaging people in activities and teaching them skills that will help them better manage their chronic diseases, reduce their risk for falls, and avoid medication complications,” said Marcia Ory, Ph.D., regents and distinguished professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health.

Utilizing community health workers

The Texas A&M Health Science Center Diabetes Education Program in Corpus Christi follows a similar formula as the programs disseminated by the School of Public Health. Health educators, who include nurses, certified diabetes educators, registered dietitians and nutritionists, teach diabetes patients in South Texas how to take control of their disease. The program consists of lab work evaluation, education and a one-year follow-up program to measure patients’ progress toward improved health. In rural areas where patients are unable to travel to the program’s clinic in the city, community health workers (CHWs) visit patients in their homes to take basic lab work such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. They also answer questions, connect patients to services and provide informal counseling and social support.

Many health care providers are beginning to recognize the value of CHWs (also known as promotores de salud, community health advocates, lay health educators, peer health promoters and community health outreach workers) as a way to expand primary care services in rural areas. CHWs are usually not formally trained as health care providers, but they can deliver some basic direct services (like first aid) and administer health screening tests. Because they are members of the communities which they serve, CHWs are able to connect with patients on a peer level to provide culturally appropriate and accessible health education and information.

By expanding the health care team to include not only physicians, but nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, community health workers, health educators and patients themselves, Texas A&M is piecing together the puzzle to help alleviate the current primary care shortage, and thus ensure that Texans are getting the best care possible. At the end of the day, health care is a team sport.

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Intervention can help mothers and children exposed to domestic violence http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=intervention-can-help-mothers-and-children-exposed-to-domestic-violence http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=intervention-can-help-mothers-and-children-exposed-to-domestic-violence#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:03:18 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21176 Research has shown that, over time, children who are exposed to violence have a potential to develop or emulate those behaviors. ]]>

It’s that time again, the start of another new school year. While it’s an exciting time for many students who are reconnecting with friends and meeting new teachers, for some children, school offers a safe haven from a home environment that causes great pain.

domestic abuse child

Domestic violence leaves a trail of abuse and health issues for child witnesses.

It is well documented that children who are exposed to interpersonal violence – or acts of violence between individuals that know each other, oftentimes those in committed relationships – experience long-term detrimental effects that impact their emotional and social development, affecting both current and future relationships. Research has also shown that, over time, children who are exposed to violence have a potential to develop or emulate these behaviors.

Nora Montalvo-Liendo, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing’s McAllen campus, has dedicated her professional career to combating domestic violence through research that brings to light the impact of interpersonal violence on families exposed to such behavior, with a special emphasis on Mexican American populations.

“Children don’t have to be on the receiving end of violence to show these symptoms,” she says. “In fact, children who witness violence at home are also at higher risk for externalizing emotions and experience challenges with their social development, which can lead to a continuation of the cycle of violence.”

The cycle persists because many children exposed to violence don’t know how to express strong emotions, like anger or disappointment, in a healthy manner. Sadly, these violent eruptions are often directed at those they love the most.

In addition to externalizing their feelings, children exposed to violence can experience other problems that affect their overall health. Increased physical health issues, traumatic stress symptoms, and subsequent challenges with regulating emotions and responses to others have all been associated with exposure to interpersonal violence. Unfortunately, while there are many established services to help women cope with domestic violence and sexual assault, there are limited services for children.

“Our research will expand the services available to children and equip professionals with the most accurate information possible,” Montalvo-Liendo said. “We want to help both mothers and children in these situations get meaningful help to not only get out of violent situations, but to also prevent violence from continuing through the next generation. Our research seeks to stop the cycle of abuse.”

A collaborative project with the University of Michigan, Montalvo-Liendo’s research is an extension of the evaluation of the well-regarded Kid’s Club and Mom’s Empowerment programs, community-based programs for women and children exposed to interpersonal violence. Mom’s Empowerment is a 10-week session for mothers with one school-age child who was exposed to interpersonal violence. Group facilitators work with mothers for one hour each week, focusing on parenting skills and empowerment. The children attend a separate group, Kid’s Club, during the same time frame and work with group leaders on social skills and how to deal with conflict.

While helpful to the communities in which the programs are made available, these sessions have not traditionally been offered in Spanish, limiting access to a number of families in need of such services. According to Montalvo-Liendo, including Spanish-speaking populations in the study will garner valuable information for addressing violence in Latina communities that has not previously been available. She hopes to use this information to equip more medical professionals and help more families, particularly in the South Texas region.

“We want to work with both moms and children to give them the education they need to deal with conflict, all while collecting evidence to help even more people in these situations,” she said. “They may have emotions of anger and rage, but they can learn to express them without violence and without disrespect.”

Empowering mothers is extremely important. Not only are they responsible for getting out of a violent situation, but they must help their children cope with the aftermath of the abuse, mothers have to be emotionally prepared themselves, in order to help their children navigate their feelings.

“We don’t openly ask children about their experiences with abuse, they will tell us during our conversations,” said Montalvo. “We can ask a child what they want to be when they grow up and they might answer ‘a policeman’ and when we ask why, they may say ‘so I can protect my mom.’”

“We want to find ways to stop or deter this violence, and we have to do this early-on,” she said. “This is a complex phenomenon, and there are so many effects of violence that we don’t understand. In addition to helping families directly, we hope to use our findings to educate nurses, teachers, counselors and entire communities.”

 

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Gary receives 2014 College-Level Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=assistant-professor-jodie-gary-receives-2014-college-level-association-of-former-students-distinguished-achievement-award-for-teaching http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=assistant-professor-jodie-gary-receives-2014-college-level-association-of-former-students-distinguished-achievement-award-for-teaching#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:32:55 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21163 Jodie Gary, PhD, RN, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, recently received the 2014 College-Level Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching. This award is to recognize, encourage, and reward superior classroom teachers –those individuals who have command ... ]]>
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“As a graduate of Texas A&M, I am truly honored,” Gary said

Jodie Gary, PhD, RN, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, recently received the 2014 College-Level Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching.

This award is to recognize, encourage, and reward superior classroom teachers –those individuals who have command of their respective discipline, teaching methodologies, pervasive caring, communication skills, and commitment to the learning process.

Recipients of the award exemplify the meaning of teacher/mentor in its highest sense and receive a $2,000 gift and a framed certificate.

“As a graduate of Texas A&M, I am truly honored,” Gary said. “I have looked at the list of past recipients and am proud and privileged to be among this list.”

“Her enthusiasm and willingness to teach students in concrete and meaningful ways has helped nursing graduates successfully navigate their own professional course,” said College of Nursing Dean Sharon Wilkerson, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF. “We all benefit from the investment she has made in our students.”

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