Doctoral nursing project expands chlamydia treatments at Ybor Youth Clinic
A collaboration between USF Health’s College of Nursing and the Ybor Youth Clinic has resulted in the first rollout of a doctoral nursing project that provides another option for treating the clinic’s at-risk patient population.
The addition of patient-delivered expedited partner therapy for certain clients testing positive for chlamydia makes it easier for patients with the common sexually transmitted infection to treat their partners and prevent repeat infections, an effort that will help break the cycle of reinfection that patients and their partners typically face.
Doctoral nursing student Shannon Nash is completing her DNP project at the Ybor Youth Clinic, a nonprofit community clinic that opened in 2012 and provides targeted health care and risk reduction services to youth ages 13 to 24.
The clinic operates under the umbrella of the USF Foundation and the Department of Pediatrics in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and provides health care services such as STI and HIV testing and treatment, prevention services and counseling, and sexual and reproductive health care.
Nash’s project allows health care providers at the clinic to provide patient-delivered expedited partner therapy to clients who test positive for chlamydia under specific conditions.
That means clients age 18 or older who test positive for the sexually transmitted infection and meet certain requirements can be given additional chlamydia treatments so they can treat their partners.
Previously, providers would urge patients to have their partners come into the Ybor Youth Clinic or see their own medical provider for testing and treatment.
Nash said she spent months researching, developing, and implementing the new protocol. The work included studying the legalities of expedited partner therapy as well as compiling the required medication information and pamphlets included in the medication bags.
In February, the clinic treated its first patient who qualified for the patient-delivered expedited partner therapy.
“It was very exciting. To them, it’s great because now they don’t have to convince their partner to go to the clinic themselves. It seems like something so small — we just handed them a bag — but it’s been nine months in the making, so it was really exciting,” Nash said.
Studies have shown the average chlamydia reinfection rate can be as high as 70 percent within nine months. Factors that contribute to that high reinfection rate include patients having new partners and the failure to treat all partners.
“We have to break the cycle of getting treated and then getting reinfected and then getting treated and getting reinfected,” Nash said.
Nash found her niche at the Ybor Youth Clinic when a friend introduced her to Dr. Amy Weiss, an adolescent medicine physician at the clinic. Nash said she shadowed Dr. Weiss, who has become her mentor throughout the journey.
“I have a real soft spot for the teens. I love the teenagers and there’s so much there that can be done,” Nash said, adding that she knew immediately she wanted to complete her doctoral project at the clinic. “For teenagers in general, they just need someone to listen to what they have to say and to care about what they are saying.”
The idea for the collaboration with the Ybor Youth Clinic began more than a year ago.
Janet Roman, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, CHFN, ACHPN, director of the college’s DNP program, said Nash’s project is the perfect example of what nurse educators and community partners had envisioned in early 2020.
Dr. Roman said when she began leading the DNP program in January 2020, she restructured how doctoral nursing students would approach their DNP projects. Instead of having students develop an entire project over several months and then sending students into the community to find a clinical partner willing to implement that project, the college did the reverse.
Dr. Roman and other college leaders met with community partners like the Ybor Youth Clinic to assess the community’s needs. Students filled out a questionnaire on their areas of interest and were later matched with a project that fills a community need.
“It’s a win, win, win. Our student needs a project. Our student needs a site. The site needs a student. The site needs a project,” Dr. Roman said.
Lisa Sanders, executive director of the Ybor Youth Clinic, said the nonprofit clinic relies heavily on community partnerships and its collaboration with the College of Nursing is a great example of how working together helped improve health care services for at-risk teens and young adults.
In 2019, the clinic had 2,295 patient visits, performed 2,206 STI tests, and treated 319 patients for an STI.
Dr. Sanders credits Nash for the tremendous work she has done to launch the new patient-delivered expedited partner therapy.
“Shannon’s project has given us another valuable option for treating and preventing the spread of chlamydia in our youth population,” Dr. Sanders said.
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing