Student Wins Nurse of the Year Honors

Donna Prentice MSN(R), ACNS-BC, CCRN, FCCM, was awarded the Nurse of the Year Award for Critical Care from the Missouri chapter of March of Dimes at their Nurse of the Year Awards Gala on Saturday, November 19, 2016.  Donna, a current PhD candidate at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, is the Medical Intensive Care Unit Clinical Nurse Specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO.  She is mentored by Deidre Wipke-Tevis PhD, RN, Associate Professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing.

Professor Earns Alumni Award

Rebecca-JohnsonProfessor Dr. Rebecca Johnson received the Professional Achievement Award from her alma mater, University of Dubuque. According the University, the Professional Achievement Award is presented to a graduate after 15 years of graduation for significant contribution of achievement in his/her chosen professional field. To be considered for this award, the nominee must have demonstrated a clear commitment to excellence in her career and have achieved visible public recognition, achievement and leadership, which reflect positively on the University’s vision.

Dr. Johnson is the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing and Public Policy and the Sinclair School of Nursing. She is also a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2005, Dr. Johnson founded and became the director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Helping the Voiceless

Unfortunately, intimate partner violence (IPV) is a sad reality for many throughout the state of Missouri and the United States. And many times, nurses are at the front lines of intervention. Throughout the Sinclair School of Nursing, faculty members are preparing student nurses to be attune to the signs of domestic violence and working to help victims.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, intimate partner violence refers to any “physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse, which can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.”

Throughout the U.S., it is estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Outside of the harm in the immediate altercation, domestic violence can have long-standing effects on the victim’s physical and mental health. According to the CDC, women who experienced violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime were more likely to report having asthma, diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome. Both men and women who experience this kind of violence were more likely to report frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty with sleeping, activity limitations, poor physical health and poor mental health.

Therefore, it is likely all health care providers will encounter intimate partner violence during their career. However, according to Dr. Lea Wood, director of the Sinclair School of Nursing Essig Simulation Center, most health care providers lack the training needed to feel confident and competent in screening patients for IPV. To combat this incompetency, Dr. Wood created the IPV Training Program implemented in the Essig Simulation Center.

The IPV Training Program combines didactic and interactive learning. Students started the session by reviewing a presentation that discussed the prevalence, significance and epidemiology of IPV, the impact IPV has on the victim, health care provider and the health care industry, appropriate screening tools and interview techniques and general safely plan.

The students then moved into an experiential learning phase, wherein they watched an exemplary screening vignette, discussed interview strategies and
reviewed an IPV resource card. Finally, students moved into the simulation center. Interacting with a standardized patient, the students had the opportunity to conduct an IPV screening interview, provide resources and collaborate with the patient to develop a safety plan. They then met as a group to debrief and discuss the effectiveness of different strategies they practiced.

While in their simulation training, students were taught to go beyond looking for the hallmark signs of IPV. The importance of routine screening for all
patients was emphasized. Dr. Wood taught the students to conduct interviews with patients following some basic guidelines:

• Introduce the topic as a routine screening for all patients
• Ask permission
• Ensure confidentiality
• Conduct the screening in a non-judgmental manner
• Thank the client for answers
• Validate patient responses empathetically
• Offer resources and referrals as appropriate

Overall, students are finding this training to be both useful and necessary.

“The response from the students was overwhelmingly positive,” Dr. Wood says. “I have received several e-mails from students expressing gratitude for the experience and how it has benefited them in both clinical experiences and personal situations.”

The simulation training is already a staple in the undergraduate track, but because of the success and necessity of the training, the program is expanding. It now includes two simulation scenarios. The first is screening for IPV after signs of physical abuse were evident, and the second includes a male victim of emotional abuse. The training has now been integrated into the Doctor of Nursing Practice program in addition to the traditional undergraduate track.

Dr. Tina Bloom, who has spent much of her career dedicated to intimate partner violence work, believes health care providers should expand their knowledge of the issue.

“It is critically important that health care providers know about intimate partner violence and how to ask patients about it and how to effectively connect their patients with safety planning services,” she says. “First of all, we want our patients to get better and/or stay healthy, and partner violence is a serious issue in terms of abuse survivors’ physical and mental health. When we don’t address it, we don’t stand much of a chance of improving overall health outcomes for our patients. Secondly, people generally trust health care providers. We are in an almost unparalleled position to convey the incredibly powerful message to a person, who is likely isolated, frightened and ashamed, that no one deserves to be abused and that safety planning services are available that are free, confidential and can increase safety for abuse survivors and their children. Third, we know that survivors of intimate partner violence are very much with us in our health care systems. In fact, an abused woman is far more likely to be seen in a health care setting than to have contact with police.”

While preparing students to screen for IPV will help many in the future, Dr. Bloom is working on innovative but tangible ways now.

Working as a nurse in a very intense, busy, high-risk perinatal unit on the West Coast, Dr. Bloom’s career would be altered forever. She had been considering what to do as a next step in her career when her
coworker got a job as a full-time research nurse for Dr. Mary Ann Curry. As it turned out, Dr. Curry actually needed two research nurses for the project, and Dr. Bloom’s coworker recommended her for the job.

Dr. Curry, who is an alumna of the Sinclair School of Nursing, was working on a large, randomized controlled trial of a nurse case management intervention for pregnant women who were abused by an intimate partner or at high risk for such abuse.

“I remember being absolutely blown away when I learned how common intimate partner violence actually is during pregnancy,” Dr. Bloom says. “How was it that something so harmful to maternal-child health was also something I’d never really learned about as a nurse? How was it that we didn’t really ask all these high-risk pregnant women about intimate partner violence?”

Dr. Bloom also credits Dr. Curry for pushing her to take the next step in her career.

“She was very generous with her mentorship and guidance and convinced me to start thinking about graduate school,” she says. “I wanted to learn how to prevent partner violence and make a meaningful difference for vulnerable pregnant women and children.”

Since that initial break, Dr. Bloom has continued to explore ways to protect those who have been abused. For the last decade, she has been working on an online program to assist battered women. This work started while she was in graduate school, working for Dr. Nancy Glass, a nurse-researcher who specializes in
intimate partner violence. Dr. Glass and Dr. Karen Eden developed a safety planning decision aid for abused women.

“One of the critical issues in this field is safety planning with abused women, a dialogue where advocates and women identify her level of risk, her resources and her priorities and then make a plan for increasing her safety, which is quite effective to reduce violence exposure, but the vast majority of abused women don’t access services where they can receive safety planning,” Dr. Bloom says.

Therefore, the team decided to put the program on a laptop. Dr. Bloom beta-tested it for the programmer and then took it around to domestic violence shelters for abused women to test the program. The abuse survivors who tested the program responded to it positively, had less conflict about their safety decisions after just one time using it and thought it would be very useful to have it online, where they could access it privately and over time.

Since that initial study, Dr. Bloom has been part of the large, multidisciplinary, multi-site team Dr. Glass built to take this work further. The team adapted the safety planning decision aid for a web-based format in response to women’s feedback and conducted a large, NIH-funded randomized controlled trial of the intervention with 720 abused women, whom they followed for a year.

Dr. Bloom developed new tailored components of the decision aid for pregnant or postpartum women. She was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to test the feasibility and acceptability of the program with hard-to-reach pregnant women.

Most recently, the team has adapted the decision aid for college women, who are the highest risk age group for an abusive relationship, and developed a component that can be used by a friend or family who is concerned about a loved one’s relationship.

The team has also adapted the decision aid into a downloadable app for smartphone use, especially important in trying to reach college students. They are currently conducting a dissemination trial of the app with college students in order to learn which strategies are most effective to increase awareness of the app and to increase uptake and use of it. The program, called myPlan, will soon be available free for anyone to download as an app or use online.

“I’m very proud to be a part of this work,” Dr. Bloom says. “What we’ve learned overall is that the decision aid supports women’s safety planning efforts, that abused women can and will access safety planning information online or via smartphone safely, and that this program can be a really useful complement to existing safety services.”

For Dr. Bloom personally, the work has been her life’s calling.

“Talking to violence survivors, hearing their stories, witnessing their strength and designing and testing interventions that fit their priorities and needs is
incredibly fulfilling.”

Mother-daughter pair serve in Haiti

It is not rare for mothers and daughters to take trips across the country–or even across the world–together. But to travel together to serve as medical missionaries to a third-world country might be a little more rare. That is just what Elizabeth Soto and her mom Tricia Jester did this summer. Instead of your traditional summer vacation, Elizabeth and Tricia packed their bags and headed to Saint-Louis-Du-Nord, Haiti, with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, to assist with eye exams and surgeries for the impoverished living in the area.

For Elizabeth, this trip quickly became “one of the most treasured moments of [her] life.” She has long been inspired by her mom and has chosen to follow in many of her footsteps. Tricia Jester graduated from the Sinclair School of Nursing in 1982 and went on to work for University Hospital in the cardiac ICU. It was there that she decided she wanted to pursue a career as a cardiac nurse specialist, so she moved to Alabama to pursue the Cardiac CNS program at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB). However, while she was there, her career took a little twist.

While in the process of applying to Cardiac CNS programs, she shadowed in the recovery room and learned about being a nurse anesthetist. UAB also happened to have a nurse anesthesia program, so she decided to apply there and got accepted. The rest, as they say, was history. She graduated in 1988 from UAB as a nurse anesthetist and has continued that career since then.

Nurse anesthetist is not her only role, though. Tricia has raised two daughters, Elizabeth and Ami. And she must have done something right–both have also gone on to graduate from the Sinclair School of Nursing. Elizabeth graduated in May 2012, Ami in December 2014. Ami worked for a little over a year at University of Missouri Psychiatric Center as a mental health nurse before accepting a job at Research Medical Center in Kansas City. She has not left the University, however. She is just beginning the DNP program to become a mental health nurse practitioner.

Elizabeth is also continuing her education, but she is once again following in her mother’s footsteps. She is currently enrolled at the Truman Medical Center School for Nurse Anesthesia in Kansas City. Learning more about her career has given Elizabeth an increased appreciation and deeper respect for her mom, especially from a professional viewpoint.

“I have always looked up to her, but going through anesthesia school has given me such a deeper respect for her,” Elizabeth says. “I know the depth of the responsibility that is placed on her shoulders every time a patient is in the operating room. I know the moment that everyone is looking to you to make sure the patient stays alive. I know that she is the calm in the storm, has made quick, life-saving decisions in the moment and that surgeons trust her greatly with their patients. I not only respect her as my mother, but I have a deep profound respect for her as a fellow anesthetist.”

Elizabeth has cherished conversations with and advice from her mom while going through this round of schooling, but this trip was a way for her to learn from her mom hands-on. Tricia served as Elizabeth’s preceptor while in surgeries.

The group was in Haiti to serve at the eye clinic. Many came to get exams and glasses, but some also required more extensive care. This is where Elizabeth and Tricia served. They helped get patients ready in the pre-operative area by putting in eye drops to dilate the eye so the surgeon could operate, put in IVs and performed eye blocks, local anesthetic to provide anesthesia and analgesia to the eye during surgery. They also were a part of surgeries such as enucleations, where the eyeball was removed, and pediatric cataract surgeries. These surgeries required general anesthesia, and the pair used their skills to administer the anesthesia.

The pair both have a passion for serving in third-world countries, whether through church or medicine, and both said this trip was a reminder to go back to the basics of the work they love.

“Anesthesia is the same both here in the United States and in a third-world country like Haiti,” Elizabeth says. “Even though we have more bells and whistles, newer technology and more equipment, the process is still the same. We gave the same drugs that we give here in the United States. I was impressed with how easy it is to rely on all of our high-tech bells and whistles–there is a monitor for anything and everything here–but down in Haiti, they might not have it.
If you don’t have that equipment, or it malfunctions, you rely on your basic nursing skills. You learn to adapt to your circumstances. You learn to provide an excellent anesthetic with minimal information about the patient.”

From working side by side, the mother-daughter duo found that it may not only be a love for nursing that’s genetic, but the way they perform the trade too.

“The saying about anesthesia is that there is more than one way to skin a cat, meaning there are a thousand different ways to do anesthesia and none of them are wrong,” Elizabeth says. “It has been funny to learn that we skin the cat in a very similar fashion, meaning out of all the ways to do anesthesia, we have landed on a very similar technique.”