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IU Northwest News

School of Nursing takes education beyond the classroom


One of IU Northwest's latest partnerships helps school nurses address needs of kids with diabetes

Tuesday Nov 25, 2014


Ellen Hennessy-Harstad, Clinical Professor of Nursing at Indiana University Northwest, is a strong advocate of taking nursing education to the broadest possible audience. Under her philosophy, helping working nurses in the community to better serve their patients is equally as important as educating students in her classrooms.

It’s the philosophy embraced by the entire School of Nursing at IU Northwest, in fact, which has long maintained a strong presence in the community and continues to be a primary resource to help healthcare providers across the region be more informed and better practitioners.

The most recent example of this community-wide nursing education took place in October, when more than 60 school nurses from across Northern Indiana gathered at IU Northwest for a workshop geared toward helping them better address the needs of children with diabetes in their schools.

The day-long seminar was a partnership between the School of Nursing, the Gary Health Department, the Indiana Association of School Nurses (IASN), and the Indiana State Department of Health’s Division of Chronic Disease, Primary Care and Rural Health. This program was developed by the National Association of School Nurses to increase the knowledge and skills of school nurses. The participants earned Continuing Education Units.

Nurses traveled from Fort Wayne and Lafayette, Ind. and as far as Oklahoma for the opportunity to learn how to better apply their knowledge of diabetes management to treat school-aged children.

Carol Loveless, a nurse for the Michigan City schools, attended the workshop. She said this is an important topic because the number of kids with diabetes is skyrocketing. One in three adults are expected to be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050, she said, and the problem is not just in the U.S., it is worldwide. There are many factors contributing to the rise, she noted, not just obesity.

She found it valuable to hear from her peers in school nursing.

“It’s interesting to hear what the nurses are having to deal with -- some things I’ve never dreamed of and other things (that) are the same things I’m having problems with,” she said during a break. “So far this morning they’ve gone through an overview of diabetes and what the nurse’s responsibility is  -- what she can delegate and what she can’t.”

Mary Kwateng, of the Gary Community School Corporation, said the workshop taught her how to better communicate with parents. She learned how she can ask the proper questions and lead parents to resources. She said that much has changed with the way diabetes is managed and there are a lot of students with special needs.

Hennessy-Harstad said that partnering with organizations and nurses in the community is a critical component of the School of Nursing’s role as a leader in nursing education.

“The School of Nursing is excited to collaborate with local, state and national organizations to ensure that nurses learn the best evidence-based practice to promote the health and well-being of the populations that we serve,” Hennessy-Harstad said.

Carolyn Snyder, Executive Director of the IASN, added that partnerships like this one are a good way to provide much-needed education to nurses within our communities while limiting financial burden. Pooling resources and working together are efficient ways of bringing education to nurses in the field at a minimal cost.

Carolyn Snyder and Ellen Hennessy-Harstad

IU Northwest photo by Erika Rose

Carolyn Snyder, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Nurses, left, and Ellen Hennessy-Harstad, clinical professor of nursing, right, head up the H.A.N.D.S. (Helping Administer to the Needs of the Student with Diabetes in School) Conference for school nurses at IU Northwest.

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