Vital Record » Nursing http://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:47:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Holiday stress: How to keep the joy alive during the holidays http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=holiday-stress-how-to-keep-the-joy-alive-during-the-holidays http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=holiday-stress-how-to-keep-the-joy-alive-during-the-holidays#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 20:23:31 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22147 The weather is cooler, the scents of pine and cinnamon fill the air and holiday music has begun its annual takeover of radio stations. Holidays are a joyous time, meant to remind us of the vital importance of family and friends. However, with all the ... ]]>

The weather is cooler, the scents of pine and cinnamon fill the air and holiday music has begun its annual takeover of radio stations. Holidays are a joyous time, meant to remind us of the vital importance of family and friends. However, with all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy for the joy of the season to turn into stress.

Christmas_stress_iStock_000021828585Large“Sometimes we get so caught up in the traditions of the season that it detracts from the true meaning of the holidays,” says Willa Decker, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing.

“In the long run, stress can have a debilitating effect on our overall health,” Decker, a mental health expert, noted. “Around 75 to 95 percent of people in hospitals are admitted due to stress related symptoms.”

We sat down with Decker to discuss ways to minimize the stress and maximize the joy this holiday season:

1. Make a list

Holidays are the time for lists: to do lists, shopping lists, grocery lists that reach the floor and more! But making a list of annual Yuletide anxiety inducers can help you keep your peace of mind. “Part of dealing with stress is acknowledging what causes it,” Decker said. Compiling a list of certain activities or traditions that bring you stress during the holiday season can help you focus on ways to relax.

“Identify what was stressful last holiday season, or maybe even this holiday season as you progress through it, and think of one or two possible solutions for each stressor you think of,” Decker advised. “Even if only a few solutions work, you can use them next year and focus on finding ways to alleviate the stress brought on by other activities.”

2. Let it go

When it comes to family gatherings, old feuds can be hard to overcome, but the best way to lessen the stress of the season is to let them go. “Try and find some way to resolve the friction for the holidays. This doesn’t mean you have to become best friends, but try to make the situation neutral,” Decker suggested.

3. Saying “no” doesn’t make you a Grinch

“We tend to overextend ourselves during the holiday season,” Decker noted. Instead of trying to do everything, try to limit your commitments to a more reasonable range.

If it’s hard for you to say no to people, but can’t devote the time for the task they ask of you, consider asking them for time to reevaluate your schedule. This strategy will bide time to brainstorm ways to gently turn them down.

Holidays don’t have to be stressful, but taking on more responsibilities than you can handle is a sure-fire way to turn you into a grumpy Santa’s little helper.

4. Break out the calendar

Sure, December is the last page of your calendar, but it doesn’t mean you should just ignore it. And just because it’s the busiest time of the year with gift giving and party planning, doesn’t mean that those everyday tasks disappear. Decker suggests using your calendar to help you keep track of events and daily tasks that you need to complete throughout the month. This will help you visualize what you need to get done and will help you from overcommitting this season.

5. Utilize your senses

If the flurry of activities and responsibilities are catching up to you, light a soothing candle or listen to your favorite holiday song. Our senses play a large part in developing our overall mood. Decker proposes trying to soothe all of our senses to help us relax – whether that means making your house smell like gingerbread or lowering the wattage of your lights to take some stress off of your eyes.

6. Reduce the clutter to a room

There are few things that can cause as much stress than feeling like Santa set up shop in every room of your house. As the old adage goes: A clean home is a happy home. Keeping the mayhem of the holidays from taking over your home may help you relax and enjoy the season.

“The clutter and mess of gifts and wrapping paper can really contribute undue stress,” Decker said. “Limiting the chaos to a single room can help ease tension.”

7. Take a step back

When you feel like your drowning in a sea of wrapping paper and ornaments, try to come up for air. “Our thoughts have a tremendous impact on how we respond to situations. Taking a step back and evaluating how we perceive a situation can help us change how we react to it,” Decker mentioned.

If the stress just becomes too much to handle, take a downbeat. “You can’t give what you don’t have, so it’s important to take care of yourself too,” Decker said.

8. Challenge traditions

Every family has their own Yuletide traditions; but if the tradition is something that only gives you a headache every year, maybe it’s time to rethink the necessity of it. Do you have to send holiday cards to that twice-removed, distant cousin, whom you’ve never met before?

“Sometimes we don’t challenge traditions enough. If it’s something that doesn’t bring you joy, you don’t have to carry out the tradition for tradition’s sake,” Decker advised.

9. Find your sense of humor

“There are great physiological benefits to humor: Over time it helps reduce our blood pressure, it massages our internal organs, it releases endorphins which make us feel better. Even forced humor can cause these benefits,” Decker said.

Decker also issued the caveat of knowing when humor is appropriate. If someone associates the holidays with a time of loss, or some other form of grief, a joke may not be the best way to relieve stress. It’s important to stay mindful of people’s feelings.

10. Identify and magnify your strengths

Maybe you’re a wizard in the kitchen, or happen to be fantastic at papier-mâché—what ever your strength is, capitalize on it. Offer to help cook at family gatherings if it’s something you enjoy, or lend a helping hand in decorations.

“People feel better when they are able to help with something they’re good at,” Decker said. Sticking to your strengths can help you contribute in a more meaningful way and feel better about it.

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, remember to take the time to relax and enjoy this holiday season!

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INFOGRAPHIC: What is forensic nursing? http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=infographic-what-is-forensic-nursing http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=infographic-what-is-forensic-nursing#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 20:28:49 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21983 Abuse victims need the assistance of health care professionals trained in trauma treatment such as sexual assault, partner violence, neglect, or other forms of intentional injury. By collecting evidence and providing testimony for use in a court of law, forensic nurses assist in the apprehension and prosecution of these criminals]]>

Learn more about forensic nursing.

Infographic on forensic nursing

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Q&A: What is Forensic Nursing? http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=qa-what-is-forensic-nursing http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=qa-what-is-forensic-nursing#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 23:05:45 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21950 In Texas, the bridge between health care and the criminal justice system is being built by nurses. ]]>

Last year, Texans experienced one violent crime every five minutes. Due to the growing incidence of abuse and violence, the war on crime has expanded to encompass much more than just law enforcement.

Nurses caring for an emergency care patient.

In Texas, the bridge between health care and the criminal justice system is being built by nurses.

In Texas, the bridge between health care and the criminal justice system is being built by nurses. Optimizing on the caregiving role of the nursing profession, forensic nurses are uniquely qualified to observe, recognize, collect and preserve evidence from perpetrators and survivors of violent crime. We sat down with Trisha Sheridan M.S.N., RN, WHNP-BC, SANE-A, CFN assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, forensic nurse program coordinator at Baylor Scott & White Hospital in College Station and the only practicing certified forensic nurse in the Brazos Valley, to find out more on how forensic nurses are helping victims recover from their injuries and seek justice.

Q: What is a forensic nurse?

A: Forensic nurses provide specialized health care and consultation for victims of violence and abuse. We are nurses trained to meet the patient’s medical needs while providing the specialized skills of injury identification, evaluation and documentation. We collect evidence, consult with legal authorities and give testimony in court. All interpersonal violence is aided by forensic nursing, including sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse.

Q: Where do forensic nurses practice?

A: Forensic nurses are frequently found in hospitals and child advocacy centers, but can also be found in community anti-violence programs, coroner’s and medical examiners offices, correctional facilities and psychiatric hospitals.  Forensic nurses may also be called on in mass disasters or community crisis situations. Currently, there simply are not enough forensic nurses in this state, and we want to change that.

Q: What does a typical ‘day in the life’ of a forensic nurse look like?

A: There really is not a “typical day” for a forensic nurse. Every day varies, every patient is different and in this community a great amount of time is spent on education and training future certified forensic nurses.

Q:Are there enough practicing forensic nurses?

A:It’s a small, specialized field, and there are not many in Texas – and that’s something we hope to change in the future. There is a great need for nurses with these skills. Until this year, I was the only certified forensic nurse in our area and now we have a team of five nurses who are all working toward their national certification in forensics.

Q: What are the steps to becoming a forensic nurse?

A: Forensic nurses are nurses first; we are registered nurses with specialized training, education and certification. So, if someone wanted to become a forensic nurse, they’d have to become a registered nurse first, and then become certified in forensics.

Q: How do forensic nurses help victims of violent crime and abuse?

A: By thinking ‘forensically’ and clinically, forensic nurses are holistically prepared to identify criminalized acts resulting in harm and help the legal system conduct investigations. We are uniquely suited to care for the survivor throughout the entire process; it takes forensics far beyond data collection and preservation.

Q: How do forensic nurses impact the war on violence?

A: We provide patient-centered, evidence-based care to victims of violence. By setting a precedence of excellent care and evidence collection, we begin the process for a successful health outcome and effective investigation. We are trained to go to court to educate juries and judges on the evidence we find, and what that evidence means. We’re at the crossroads of health and justice; it’s a place where forensic nurses can make an enormous difference. We want to equip Texas with advocates against violence and agents of care – that’s a pretty exciting place to be.

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Harnessing Anxiety: Research looks for optimal performance in health care http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=harnessing-anxiety-research-looks-for-optimal-performance-in-health-care http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=harnessing-anxiety-research-looks-for-optimal-performance-in-health-care#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 16:18:12 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21921 In a series of research studies, College of Nursing faculty members have teamed together to find out what can be done for nursing students to be at their best for optimal learning and performance. ]]>

Have you ever been really nervous for a test, a big game or a presentation at work? You’re not the only one. That nervousness you felt is performance anxiety – and medical professionals and students can feel it too.

Dr. Gosselin talking to nursing students in the hall of the Clinical Learning Resource Center.

“In short, we’re combining psychology and education with nursing in hopes of improving how our students learn, and in turn improving how they treat patients in practice,” Holland said.

Studies show that if this anxiety gets too high, it can hinder a person’s ability to perform skills at an effective level. Remember the last test you took? Did you panic? If so, chances are that panicked feeling may have caused you to miss a question or two. The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing is looking at ways to combat performance anxiety and ensure that medical professionals and students perform their skills at the highest level possible.

In a series of research studies, College of Nursing faculty members have teamed together to find out what can be done for nursing students to be at their best for optimal learning and performance.

Angela Mountain, M.S., RN, CMSRN, clinical assistant professor; Brian Holland, Ph.D., M.S.N., RN, CCRN, assistant professor; Sara Williamson, B.S.N., RN, Clinical Teaching Coordinator; and Kevin Gosselin, Ph.D., M.Ed., M.S., associate professor and assistant dean for research and evidence based practice, examined performance psychological applications within the simulation experiences of the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Clinical Learning Resource Center where health professions students learn and practice their skills with simulated patients.

“Previous studies have shown that many students experience high levels of anxiety that can interfere with learning and performance, which is completely contradictive to our goal of creating the best nurses, so we’re trying to help students find ways to control their anxiety levels,” Mountain said.
The goal was to find the best way to prepare students to learn and perform in their optimal performance zone.

“This does two things: ensures that students can learn more information at a more effective level, and that they can perform to their best possible abilities,” Williamson explained.

Assigned musical therapy, autogenic training, movement meditation and self-selected music therapy were all examined in this series of studies. These techniques are commonly used to reduce anxiety in the field of performance psychology. While these therapies have been applied to other fields, they have not been applied in nursing. Nursing’s unique holistic approach to patient treatment relies heavily on interpersonal relationships, which can be greatly influenced by performance anxiety.

“We wanted to look at real options for students and professionals – something they can use and see real, meaningful results,” Gosselin said. “We don’t want this to just be a study, we want the results we find to be used, and so the next step for our team is translation: how nurses can use this to perform at their best.”

The study, which is in its final phase, has shown that subjects’ anxiety levels are indicative of confidence and higher learning and performance.

So how exactly does this all work? Gosselin explained that anxiety is characterized by two different types of symptoms: cognitive (mental) and physical. The cognitive symptoms were measured through subject surveys before and after therapy, while physical symptoms were measured by changes in blood pressure and heart rate.
In both cases, the goal of the study was to find how to find the optimal level of anxiety prior to learning or performance evaluations. The various therapies being studied could be self-induced in practical application, which means that in the future, students and professionals can use these techniques themselves.

“In short, we’re combining psychology and education with nursing in hopes of improving how our students learn, and in turn improving how they treat patients in practice,” Holland said.

While the findings are still being collected and compared to see which therapy is the most effective, the College of Nursing is finding positive results so far. The team explained that an optimal performance zone exists with performance anxiety. Basically, too little or too much anxiety can hinder learning and performance, so they’re searching for that zone that offers the best level of anxiety that will create an atmosphere that promotes confidence.

Gosselin explained that this study is part of the College of Nursing’s larger goal of innovating health care education for all medical professionals.

“Because of the uniqueness of nursing and the emphasis on care, it allows us to explore educational research in ways that will translate directly to patient care,” Gosselin said. “Evidence-based practice is the heart of our mission here, and we’re excited to see these results translated into patient care across health care professions and all patient populations.”

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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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