April 20, 2001

School of Nursing strives for a lifetime of learning

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School of Nursing strives for a lifetime of learning

The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is committed to promoting opportunities for nurses to continue learning throughout their lifetimes. To meet this commitment, the School of Nursing has established an Office of Lifelong Learning to provide continuing education. Through this venue, practicing nurses will have access to the latest nursing information.

“You don’t stop learning the day you graduate from nursing school,” said Terri Urbano, Ph.D., RN, associate dean for Lifelong Learning. “Health care is changing so quickly. Individuals need to make a commitment to continue to enhance their competency levels in this changing environment through a lifelong pursuit of learning.”

While continuing education is a new program for VUSN, it is not new to Urbano, who has always combined her love for continuing education with administrative, teaching, research and clinical interests.

She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Florida State University and her master’s in a combined nursing/public health program at the University of North Carolina. After working in public heath nursing, she returned to Florida State University to earn her Ph.D. in education.

Urbano has a long history of research in the field of professional continuing education as well as many publications on the subject.

Before coming to VUSN, Urbano was a professor of Pediatrics and Nursing at the University of Miami and director of the Mailman Center for Child Development, where she established a continuing education program related to interdisciplinary approaches to developmental disabilities.

“These programs were always a special opportunity to provide education to professionals functioning in specialized areas who had difficulty accessing quality continuing education,” Urbano said. “I now have an opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences to develop quality continuing nursing education here.”

The Office of Lifelong Learning approaches teaching nurses in two ways: via face-to-face contact and online continuing education courses.

Both options are experiencing an explosion in the level of interest among nurses, she said.

“Because there is such a need for education, the response to both of these options has been tremendous,” Urbano said. “We are excited about the potential for growth.”

Face-to-face conferences are being developed by VUSN in response to several needs. They provide an opportunity for nurses to network while learning about the latest in nursing practice and education. They also provide an opportunity to foster and enhance relationships with alumni and preceptors. Finally, they are an opportunity to showcase the high quality, nationally recognized faculty that make VUSN one of the leaders in the country.

Yet, these types of conferences have some inherent barriers: costs, distance and difficulty getting away from job and/or family responsibilities. These have traditionally been deterrents to participation.

The development of online courses will reduce many of these barriers, Urbano said.

Content for these courses is developed by VUSN faculty. It is converted for online use by HealthStream, Inc, a nationally traded e-learning company with corporate headquarters in Nashville. Vanderbilt University Medical Center and HealthStream have a contract which allows VUSN courses to be distributed to health care organizations through a business-to-business model. Additional distribution is also available through HealthStream’s network of Web site partners including WebMD.

The following is a list of course titles available via the Internet for nursing contact hours:

“Hypothermia: A Frequently Overlooked Complication of Trauma”

“Clinical Evaluation of the Breast”

“Basic Dysrhythmias”

“Emergency Contraception”

“IRB Training for Investigators” (this course is accredited for CMEs and Nursing Contact Hours)

In addition, there are three other courses in development stages.

The following is a list of conferences coming up this year:

“Business of Nursing” May 16 at Opryland Hotel. This daylong conference is designed to prepare advanced practice nurses and faculty to meet the business challenges of professional clinical practices. Carolyn Buppert, CRNP, JD, a nationally recognized nursing leader, will be the speaker. Limit 300

“Understanding Cultural Implications for Practice” June 20 at VUSN. This daylong conference is part of a series focusing on the changing demographics of patient populations and increase provider sensitivity to cultural and environmental factors affecting practice. Josepha Campinha-Bacote, Ph.D., director of Transcultural C.A.R.E., will be the speaker. Limit 200

“Removing the Barriers: Providing Culturally Competent Care for Lesbians and Women who Partner with Women” June 21 at VUSN. This is an optional workshop in the cultural series. Sponsored by the Mautner Project in Washington, D.C. Limit 40

For additional information about these courses, including fees and nursing contact hours awarded, call the Office of Lifelong Learning at 615-936-2581.