American Red Cross Simulation and Student Nurse Disaster Preparedness

Thursday, 27 July 2017: 2:50 PM

Patricia Frohock Hanes, PhD, MAEd, MS-DPEM, RN, CNE, NEMAA, CLSSGB
Anna Marie Hefner, PhD, MSN, BSN
School of Nursing, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA, USA

Background: Disasters, natural and man-made, are increasing world-wide. Student nurses are an under-utilized resource in disaster response. As pre-professionals with some training, they have the ability to increase response capacity during disasters. Nursing organizations in the United States such as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the National League for Nursing (NLN) advocate some form of disaster nursing education across all levels of nursing (AACN, 2006, 2008, 20011; NLN, 2013). The International Council of Nurses (ICN) developed a list of core competencies for disasters in 2009; the National Student Nurses’ Association in the United States (2012) promoted the training and use of student nurses during disasters. Nurses lack confidence and adequate education to participate in disaster activities (Hanes, 2016; Locke & Fung, 2014). In 2012 the American Red Cross introduced a four-hour hybrid disaster nursing course.

Purpose: This presentation will describe the conduction of a web-enhanced, low-fidelity disaster simulation and the results of an evaluative survey administered after a disaster simulation and hybrid (online and face-to-face) disaster nursing course with student nurses.

Conceptual Frameworks: Theories of learning styles, social cognitive learning, self-efficacy, volunteerism and human behavior theories.

Methods: The American Red Cross developed a disaster course to enable student nurses to increase awareness of their roles in disaster preparedness and how to actually participate in a disaster. The course consisted of a web-enhanced low-fidelity simulation with interactive injects where students responded to disaster scenarios. Students, placed in groups, discussed responses to web prompts, videos, and facilitator questions. Prior to the first administration of the course in 2014, the course had only been held once in the Los Angeles region. This four-hour, non-credit course was held on a Saturday morning; 100 nursing students participated. Unfortunately, due to space limitations, some students desiring to attend were unable to participate. Subsequent courses held in smaller venues were well attended; to date, approximately 200 students (and some faculty) have completed the course. Three hypotheses were explored: Hypothesis 1: Simulation will provide a supportive learning process in disaster preparedness. Hypothesis 2: Disaster simulation will increase self-efficacy in students in disaster situations. Hypothesis 3: Low-fidelity disaster simulations are an effective way to teach disaster preparedness.

Evaluative survey data was collected in four areas: demographics, simulation design, educational practices, and student satisfaction and self-efficacy.

Results: Demographics: Participants in this descriptive study consisted of 84.2% females and 8.9% males. Hypothesis 1: 88% of the participants agreed that the simulation design for disaster preparedness provided an opportunity for them to think critically about the scenarios and globally about their roles in disasters; 93% felt the simulation design supported the gaining of knowledge in disaster preparedness. Hypothesis 2: 87% of participants became more confident in their ability to provide care. They found the simulation challenged their comfort level allowing for learning from mistakes and holistically viewing the individual and the community. Hypothesis 3: The simulation provided a hands-on opportunity to see the classroom learning/skills gained applied in multiple realistic settings. Eighty-four percent found the variety in scenarios and delivery in the simulation increased both their knowledge and interest in, as well as response to, disasters. In the debriefing session conducted at the conclusion of the exercise, students reported a desire to learn more about disaster nursing and to volunteer for disaster organizations.

Conclusions: Student nurses are a valid asset in disaster preparedness and response and increase the region’s capacity to respond in times of crisis. National and international nursing organizations have mandated that nursing students have preparation in disaster preparedness and response. Students are enthusiastic about having the opportunity to respond to disasters and are willing to work beyond their regular duties to participate in disaster-related learning activities. Future research must explore ways to effectively incorporate broad disaster nursing education into existing curricula while providing practical experiences via participation in simulations and/or actual disasters. More faculty need training to be prepared to teach this essential content. Further opportunities for nursing disaster education and research are needed in this evolving field.