June 30, 2006

For VUMC nurses, commitment to caring extends into community

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Russell Rothman, M.D., and Shelagh Mulvaney, Ph.D., have found that children with type 2 diabetes may require different treatment approaches than previously thought.
Photo by Dana Johnson

For VUMC nurses, commitment to caring extends into community

Vanderbilt nurses don't stop helping others when their shifts are over.

According to a report created for the American Nurses' Credentialing Center as part of the Magnet Recognition process, VUMC nurses are highly engaged members of the local, regional and global community, with involvement in hundreds of outreach programs.

“We knew we were doing a tremendous amount of outreach,” said Marilyn Dubree, M.S.N., R.N., chief nursing officer. “After putting the information together, it's nothing short of amazing to see all the ways our staff touches lives and makes a difference outside of our campus.”

Over the past 18 months, Vanderbilt nurses have served on medical and mission trips to more than 20 countries, participated in 11 different local health screenings and joined in more than a dozen fund-raising events for community agencies.

“Vanderbilt nurses are good citizens of our community and we express that in many different ways,” said Karen Robinson, coordinator of Case Management Practices. “For most nurses it is not a job requirement to participate in community service; yet hundreds of our talented nurses volunteer every year to meet health care needs, to educate people and to raise funds needed to care for others and for research.”

Robinson and Marie Glaser, assistant administrator for Cardiovascular PCC, worked with a team across the Medical Center to collect these stories about nurses volunteer efforts. In addition, nursing managers collected lists from their staff about community activities during evaluation process.

“It's impossible to capture everything, but we wrote a 35-page section listing example after example of nurse involvement,” said Robinson. “It is remarkable.”

Whether it's hosting a special presentation on campus or traveling halfway around the world with a health care team, VUMC nurses are health care providers, educators and ambassadors for VUMC.

Brazil, Guatemala, Peru, South Africa and Russia are just a few of the countries where VUMC nurses and health care teams have traveled. For example, several nurses have participated in medical mission trips to Honduras with Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood for the past three years. During these trips, they provided basic health care to adults and children including parasite treatment, care of minor illnesses and identification of and referral for urgent care needs.

Medical Center nurses have been proactive about educating the local community about child safety issues. During the Safe Kids Symposium, VCH administrators and nurses, along with LifeFlight staff, used an “educate the educator” approach to teach area caregivers about how to prevent injuries to children. VUMC has also been very active in car seat safety checks to ensure car seats are installed properly

VUMC nurses took the lead to help the Hospital Hospitality House raise more than $30,000, which paid for one of 10 guest rooms in the new facility.

Robinson believes the impact of VUMC nurse volunteerism is far-reaching and helps make VUMC a strong, positive and productive corporate citizen.

“It's about 'hearts and minds' positively impacting the world in which we live,” said Robinson. “But, it is more than that. We return to our 'day jobs' with a deeper and richer perspective of the opportunities we have to live and work in the community we are as Vanderbilt and even as Middle Tennesseans.”

For more information about the community outreach programs included in the Magnet report, to www.vanderbiltmagnet.com.