American Nurses Aren’t Prepared For The Next Major Disaster

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Imagine a nuclear attack, pandemic, and or a water contamination crisis, American nurses at colleges and universities receive very little, if any, training in how to handle catastrophic situations, according to two studies co-authored by Roberta Lavin, executive associate dean and professor in University of Tennessee’s College of Nursing.

Lavin published the studies in the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing and Nursing Outlook, warned “events that can cause greater impact but are less likely to occur, usually receive less training hours.”

The studies indicate nurses weren’t given proper training to handle crises, while professors and lecturers said the curriculum provided not enough information into catastrophic situations.

Emergencies are not just the exact moment a disaster hits; it is also the aftermath. How do we evacuate a town? How do we carry out care for other chronic, sometimes life-lasting consequences that derive from these situations? That is the big challenge,” said Lavin.

One study called “Zika and flint water public health emergencies: Disaster training tool kits relevant to pregnant women and children,” investigated the management of Zika fever and water contamination crises — determined emergency procedures and emergency training among nurses in handling women and children were mostly overlooked.

The study also evaluated the preparedness of Master of Public Health programs, medical schools, and Doctor of Osteopathy programs in America.

“Even though all accreditation standards require this type of preparation, we are not putting enough emphasis on it,” said Lavin.

The second study called “National nurse readiness for radiation emergencies and nuclear events: A systematic review of the literature,” noted that the capacity of nurses to respond following a large-scale radiation release (nuclear attack or power plant meltdown) would be rather weak because the training received in nursing programs rarely covered this topic.

Lavin and her co-authors are preparing to release new resources to nursing programs that could close the knowledge gap.

“We are putting people out there to attend these emergencies, and we owe it to them to prepare them right,” Lavin said.

The studies have been published at a time when the global geopolitical climate has darkened, the exchange of nuclear war, if that is with a state or terrorist organization is becoming a potential reality. Should any of these events occur in the US in the next several years, American nurses don’t have the proper training to handle such a crisis, could result in unimaginable loss of life.

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