Curricular Threading of Disaster Nursing Education

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Crystal C. Shannon, PhD, MBA
College of Health and Human Services, School of Nursing, Indiana University Northwest, Gary, IN, USA

Nursing educators nationwide have heeded the call to action for improved inclusion of disaster nursing education in prelicensure programs. Recurrent events continue to demonstrate the unique role of the profession in disaster preparedness and response. Although regulatory bodies such as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCBSN) acknowledge the need for inclusion of disaster preparedness content within prelicensure education and testing, few models exist on how this inclusion might look and how it is threaded throughout the curriculum.

The creation of a curricular thread demonstrates commitment to content and creates an integrated theme for undergraduate nursing students. This process is acknowledged as an effective approach for the intentional focus of selected nursing concepts (e.g. cultural diversity, evidence-based practice, etc.). Unfortunately, when students only receive content in one course (or have the perception of content being connected to only one course) they may experience limited comprehension and ability for application of that specific concept (Annis & Annis, 1987). Additionally, they may not relate the concept to other aspects of professional nursing. The use of spaced repetition is recommended to promote efficiency when learning important content (Kang, 2016). This is also true with disaster nursing concepts. Although required by accrediting bodies (e.g. AACN) to be included within the curriculum, the focus of these concepts may be kept in community health nursing courses where students may receive a disconnected view of the subject as it related to overall nursing practice.

The threading of disaster nursing concepts can be similarly applied to nursing curricula as in the recent QSEN movement (Cronenwett et al., 2007). Although some threads are introduced and explored at different points in the curriculum (based on level of knowledge and experience) the goal is to allow students to see the connection and bridging of concepts for improved nursing knowledge, skills, and abilities. The purpose of this presentation is to share the results of methods used to integrate disaster nursing throughout the nursing curriculum for a Midwestern undergraduate nursing program. Specific examples of integration methods, student feedback, and lessons learned will be explored.