October 15, 2003

Vanderbilt School of Nursing Awarded Grants Totaling More Than $1.8 Million

The Vanderbilt School of Nursing has been awarded two separate grants to deliver online emergency preparedness programs to healthcare professionals around the country.

Nashville, Tenn. ñ The Vanderbilt School of Nursing has been awarded two separate grants to deliver online emergency preparedness programs to healthcare professionals around the country.

The first grant, totaling $759,589 is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (H.H.S.) Bioterrorism Training and Curriculum Development Program, and the second grant is from The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in the amount of $1,090,145.

VUSN plans to use the funds from H.H.S. to deliver a model of emergency response curriculum for nursing, medical, nutrition, and social work students. Betsy Weiner, PhD, senior associate dean for Educational Informatics, is the principal investigator on both grants awards. Pam Hoffner, emergency preparedness coordinator with VUMC will be working with Weiner on the project. Dr. Robin Hemphill, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine, will help coordinate the inclusion of medical students, and Cynthia Broadhurst, director of Nutrition Management, will help incorporate students from Vanderbilt nutrition courses. Debbie Simpler, chair of the Department of Social Work at Belmont University will also coordinate her students’ efforts on the project.

Weiner says by bringing multiple disciplines together they hope to better prepare students for any disaster scenario.

The grant will allow VUSN to design a series of three courses for academic credit or continuing education credit, which Weiner pilot tested last spring. Eventually any school of nursing could access and apply the courses to their own students in their own communities.

VUSN’s award is just a piece of the $26.6 million given by H.H.S. to support groups around the country focusing their efforts on improving bioterrorism preparedness.

"We are delighted that our expertise in using expert pedagogical techniques to deliver content about public health emergencies to nurses and other health professionals is being recognized on a national basis," said Colleen Conway-Welch, PhD, Nancy and Hilliard Travis professor of Nursing and dean of the School of Nursing.

The second grant, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, titled "Preparing Volunteer Nurses for Public Health Emergencies," will allow Weiner and her colleagues to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of learning programs designed to educate nurses volunteering for service in their local community Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). The grant will allow Weiner to compare a face-to-face learning program with an online version of the program, both of which will be designed using the principles of the national "How People Learn" framework. Once volunteers have been trained using one of the two methods of delivery, they will be evaluated to learn which method works the best. In the future, VUSN hopes to offer the best identified training format to nurses around the country.

Both projects will allow VUSN to offer online educational programs specifically designed to meet the established competencies for all nurses in emergency preparedness. That means that in the future, they hope to have all nurses who respond to a disaster situation on the same page, regardless of where they were educated. The competencies were drafted by the International Nursing Coalition for Mass Casualty Education (INCMCE), an organization chaired by Conway-Welch, with Weiner as associate director.

All online materials will be completed with assistance from Little Planet Learning, a multi-media development company based in Nashville specializing in using the "How People Learn" framework.

Media contact: Heather Hall, (615) 322-3894, Pager: (615) 363-6451 heather.l.hall@vanderbilt.edu