September 5, 2008

VUSN helps Prison Bureau plan care

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VUSN’s Linda Norman, D.S.N., R.N., talks with nurse managers from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. (photo by Susan Urmy)

VUSN helps Prison Bureau plan care

Delivering health care to the more than 201,000 inmates in the Federal Bureau of Prisons system is a big job, and Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is lending a hand.

Recently, the school hosted 35 of the bureau's administrators and nurse managers from across the country for a three-day leadership development conference. The Board of Prisons initiated this workshop to enhance particular areas of knowledge such as succession planning and nurse retention.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons runs a network of prisons for people who commit federal offenses. The majority of inmates (70 percent) are serving sentences of five years and longer, creating the need to provide services and programs for such things as geriatrics and palliative care.

“A big part of strengthening the system is focusing on the role of nurse managers,” said Linda Norman, D.S.N., R.N., senior associate dean for Academics.

“Nurse managers are the linchpin for strategic planning, staff retention and effective communications. They are the backbone of the organization in many ways.”

Bureau of Prisons leaders Capt. Newton Kendig II, M.D., medical director, and Melody Silverberg, national health systems administrator, kicked off the seminar that delved into topics such as diversity, generational differences, organizational dynamics, change management, population management and financial planning.

“It's important to understand that the depth and breadth of health care needs is so extensive that it encompasses nearly everything,” said Jan Osten, chief nurse of the Bureau of Prisons. “Their requirement is to provide all health care needs to incarcerated individuals — ambulatory, acute, primary care, chronic care, surgery referrals — over a significant duration of someone's life.”

VUSN's relationship with the Bureau of Prisons dates back 10 years when the two groups first started partnering for lectures and various correctional health issues. When the group needed help with their expanding set of health care responsibilities, they turned to the school for its experience and national reputation in health care delivery.