Grant helps Decker introduce new curriculum
March 19, 2013Tweet
The Decker School of Nursing (DSON) has received a grant of $82,194 to develop a new curriculum for nurse practitioner students.
“Dean Joyce Ferrario applied for this grant to develop a curriculum that increases the nurse practitioner students’ awareness of the challenges faced by individuals with developmental disabilities when accessing the healthcare system,” said Kathleen Fitzgerald, clinical assistant professor and the project instructor for this grant. Fitzgerald is also the faculty member spearheading the new curriculum.
The funding for the curriculum came from the New York State Developmental Disability Planning Council and Partners in Health Education for People with Disabilities.
“(Decker) has also partnered with the Broome Developmental Center to enhance the experience of the students participating in the curriculum,” Fitzgerald said.
The new curriculum was integrated into the nurse practitioner program last fall with 50 students participating. The program has expanded this semester to include 70 more students.
Fitzgerald said that the program has long been needed.
“The DSON wants to improve its students’ knowledge and ability to provide healthcare to individuals with developmental disabilities who will be present in their clinical setting,” she said. “It is important for healthcare providers to be well-informed when caring for these individuals and families, and to understand the barriers faced by these individuals in accessing health care.”
According to Fitzgerald, there are 70 million people in the U.S. who have an intellectual disability or a developmental disability.
“This group has lower rates of preventative healthcare and higher rates of pro-morbid chronic conditions and secondary conditions. So in other words, individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension do not fair as well statistically as individuals without disabilities,” Fitzgerald said.
Paul Miller, who graduated from the Decker School of Nursing as a primary care nurse practitioner in 2010 and is currently enrolled in the doctorate in nurse practice program, said that the grant is extremely valuable for the institution.
“The educational experience provided by this grant will allow the students to have some exposure to disabled citizens and the challenges they face in the healthcare arena so that they are better equipped to offer personalized care that is effective and considerate of their needs,” Miller said.
Miller, who now works as a nurse practitioner in community health at the Broome Developmental Center, said there will be an increase in the number of people seeking primary care providers.
“As the healthcare landscape in this country continues to change, you will see more and more persons with disabilities relying on community services rather than government-provided services,” Miller said.
As the need for healthcare providers is expected to increase, Fitzgerald said Decker is attempting to prepare nurse practitioner students for this change. Students in the Role 3 course are working on comprehensive case studies that are inclusive of a patient with a developmental disability.
“For example, a person comes into their office with hypertension, but also has a developmental disability. What [the students] are doing is a normal case study that extensively researches the medical presentation of this patient as well as his or her developmental disability,” Fitzgerald said.
The curriculum also teaches the students about which community agencies they will be able to refer their patients to, as well as the legal issues regarding the care of individuals with developmental disabilities.
Fitzgerald said that she hopes the students in the program will gain a newfound awareness in dealing with patients with developmental disabilities.
“I think the most important thing is the increased awareness of the difficulties that individuals and families face when accessing the healthcare system, and that they have the same preventative and medical needs as every individual who comes into their practice.”