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Campus joins national effort to train nurses in veterans' health needs

4/18/2012 —

The Penn State Lehigh Valley Practical Nursing Program has announced a partnership with the Joining Forces initiative, a coordinated, nationwide effort designed to further educate the nation's 3 million nurses in order to prepare them to meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans and their families. The initiative, being led by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Second Lady Jill Biden, involves more than 150 state and national nursing organizations and more than 500 nursing schools across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

 

Led by the American Nurses Association, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the National League for Nursing, in coordination with the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, nursing organizations and schools have committed to educating current and future nurses on how to recognize and care for veterans impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression and other combat-related issues, in ways appropriate to each nurse’s practice setting.

 

"The Penn State Practical Nursing program is proud to participate in this nationwide initiative by pledging to educate students, now and in the future, to meet the unique healthcare needs of United States military personnel, veterans and their families," said Sharon Gordon, coordinator of the Penn State Lehigh Valley Practical Nursing Program. "Including content in the curriculum will be the first step in honoring this pledge."

 

The invisible wounds of war, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), have impacted about one in six U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq -- more than 300,000 veterans. Since 2000, more than 44,000 of those troops have suffered at least a moderate-grade traumatic brain injury.

 

Veterans seeking care within the Veterans Affairs (VA) health system are often treated by health care professionals who have received extensive training in mental health issues, but the majority of veterans in the country seek care outside of the VA system -- they usually visit their local hospital, staffed by nurses and doctors in their communities. This program will help more health care providers to understand the needs of those who have served, to recognize the warning signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or suicide, and to know where to send them for help.

 

Nursing leaders have also committed to disseminating effective models for care and to sharing the most up-to-date information on these conditions across academic and practice settings. By working to expand the body of clinical knowledge in this arena and by partnering with other health care providers and institutions, nursing leaders across the country will continue to advance high quality treatment for these conditions in every community.

 

As part of the Joining Forces effort, participating nursing schools have committed by 2014 to:

 

-- Educating America’s future nurses to care for our nation's veterans, service members, and their families facing post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, and other clinical issues;

-- Enriching nursing education to ensure that current and future nurses are trained in the unique clinical challenges and best practices associated with caring for military service members, veterans, and their families;

-- Integrating content that addresses the unique health and wellness challenges of our nation’s service members, veterans, and their families into nursing curricula;

-- Sharing teaching resources and applying best practices in the care of service members, veterans and their families;

-- Growing the body of knowledge leading to improvements in health care and wellness for our service members, veterans and their families; and

-- Joining with others to further strengthen the supportive community of nurses, institutions, and healthcare providers dedicated to improving the health of service members, veterans, and their families.

 

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