USF gets 1 of 2 federal grants to train state's nursing faculty in high-tech healthcare

Will prepare faculty to use cutting-edge technologies needed to educate today’s nurses

Tampa, FL (August 12, 2010) –- The University of South Florida College of Nursing has received a five-year, $1.3-million federal grant to train nursing faculty throughout the state in the use of simulation learning, informatics and telehealth. USF was one of only two institutions in the nation recently awarded such a grant by the Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

“USF Nursing will develop and implement a training program designed to integrate emerging technologies into nursing education and practice,” said Dianne Morrison-Beedy PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, FAAN, dean of the USF College of Nursing and senior associate vice president of USF Health. “This really is national recognition of USF Nursing as a leader in cutting-edge health education technology, and will allow us to share our successes with our colleagues throughout the state and to impact nursing education across a broad spectrum of schools.”

This study will examine the use of these technologies to supplement nursing students’ clinical experiences, to reduce the pressure on over-stressed hospitals that serve as settings for hands-on learning, and to create nurses better prepared to enter today’s high-tech healthcare field.

USF will develop and implement a training program designed to integrate emerging technologies, like simulation and telehealth, into nursing education and practice.

“The goal is to ultimately improve the nursing graduate so that they have the tools to be successful,” said principal investigator Laura Gonzalez, PhD, ARNP, CNE, assistant professor and director of the Center for Virtual Simulation at the USF College of Nursing. “We need to incorporate telehealth at a greater pace. It is becoming much more widespread, and we should be adding it to our classrooms!”

As a result of the grant, Dr. Gonzalez hopes to develop a first-of-its-kind consortium in Florida where nursing faculty and technology experts can share ideas. This initiative develops a multi-institutional collaborative with the expertise to provide ongoing education and faculty support in using emerging technologies for nursing education and practice. Using a “train-the-trainer” model, USF Nursing will aim the program at nursing faculty from other regional universities and community colleges. The University of South Florida will provide project leadership and resources with additional expertise provided through collaboration with the University of Florida.

In addition to Dr. Gonzalez, other key personnel from the USF College of Nursing include Denise Passmore, PhD, instructional designer and director of web instruction; Joan Perl, MS, RN, instructor; and Vicente Saadeh, instructional design support specialist. William C. Mann, PhD, OTR, senior telehealth expert at the University of Florida, will serve as a consultant for the study.

“Dr. Mann is forward-thinking and a pioneer in his field,” said Dr. Gonzalez. “Having him on the grant will allow us to provide participants the latest in telehealth technologies.”

Nursing graduates must have a basic understanding of computers, data gathering devices and decisional support software. “Simulation is a vital strategy to supplement clinical learning and complement direct patient care opportunities,” said Rita F. D’Aoust, PhD, ANP-BC, CNE, associate dean for academic affairs and director for interprofessional initiatives. Informatics has the potential to enhance the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare delivery, but analysis of its impact on the clinical education of health professions students has been limited, and many nursing programs do not include informatics content in students’ coursework.

“The USF College of Nursing aspires to evolve into the leading simulation training center for nursing education in the southeastern United States,” said Dean Morrison-Beedy. “The potential for collaboration between education and industry in this type of enterprise is unmistakable, and we look forward to the results of the study and the next steps in its evolution.”

– USF Health –

USF Health is dedicated to creating a model of health care based on understanding the full spectrum of health. It includes the University of South Florida’s colleges of medicine, nursing, and public health; the schools of biomedical sciences as well as pharmacy, and physical therapy & rehabilitation sciences; and the USF Physicians Group. With more than $380.4 million in research grants and contracts last year, the University of South Florida is one of the nation’s top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community-engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

News release by USF College of Nursing Communications, and photo by Luis Battistini