Moving Disaster Education From the Classroom to the Community

Saturday, 28 October 2017

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

Nurses have a long history with community engagement and health promotion. This relationship has served to establish the profession as the most trustworthy of all professions for the past decade. However, we struggle in understanding our role in the delivery of primary prevention methods for disaster readiness and emergency responsiveness. Recent events have consistently demonstrated the need for continued efforts toward community health promotion and resilience (Chandra et al., 2013). Yet, few models exist where nurses take a leadership role in engaging the community in disaster response preparation and potentially prevention. Additionally, even fewer examples exist in the direct involvement of undergraduate nursing students in this effort.

The concept of community resilience supports the ability of a community to regain its prior level of functioning after a disaster event has occurred. Researchers acknowledge the lack of focus placed on disaster preparedness by traditional health care personnel and suggest action for improved delivery of holistic care (Adams & Canclini, 2008; Hipper, Orr, & Chernak, 2015). However, topics such as disaster preparedness are often left to emergency management personnel, fire safety, and local law enforcement.

The intentional involvement of nurses in this endeavor supports the professional focus of community engagement and health promotion. Both topics are important to the art and science of nursing practice but may remain elusive and abstract to inexperienced nurses and prelicensure students. While nursing educators have strategically improved their methods for community engagement through a variety of service-learning activities, internships, engaged research, and institutional engagement; the visibility of the profession in disaster preparedness, mitigation, and response remains limited.

As nursing education has continued to focus on the improvement of disaster nursing concept delivery in prelicensure curriculums, opportunities exist for the experiential learning of undergraduate nursing students in community-based disaster support. This presentation will describe the intentional integration of a disaster preparedness community engagement program within a Midwest school of nursing with the intent of improving disaster preparedness for prelicensure nursing students and the local community.