(April 12, 2012) – More than 150 state and national nursing organizations and over 500 nursing schools, including The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), have pledged support to First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative.
The nationwide effort makes a broad, coordinated effort to further educate the nation’s three-million nurses to meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans, and their families.
“We are pleased to join this effort and have already begun looking at ways we can ensure that our students are prepared to meet the emerging needs of this special group of citizens,” said UTHealth School of Nursing Dean Patricia L. Starck, D.S.N., R.N., FAAN. “We have a school committee developing a full-fledged plan of activities that all employees of the School can participate in, making a contribution to assist our veterans and their families.”
Nursing leaders have also committed to disseminating effective models for care and to sharing the most up-to-date information on these conditions across academic and practice settings. By working to expand the body of clinical knowledge in this arena and by partnering with other health care providers and institutions, nursing leaders across the country will continue to advance high-quality treatment for these conditions in every community in ways appropriate to each nurse’s practice setting.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – often called “the invisible wounds of war” – have affected about one in six of U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, totaling more than 300,000 veterans. And, since 2000, more than 44,000 of those troops have suffered at least a moderate-grade traumatic brain injury.
Led by the American Nurses Association, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and the National League for Nursing – in coordination with the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense – nursing organizations and schools have committed to educating current and future nurses on how to recognize and care for veterans with PTSD, TBI, depression and other combat-related issues.
Earlier this year the UTHealth Medical School and more than 100 other medical schools enlisted in the Joining Forces initiative.
“This pledge reaffirms our commitment to the wellness of our nation’s military,” said Giuseppe Colasurdo, M.D., UTHealth’s president ad interim and medical school dean. “Our purpose is to provide educational opportunities and real solutions to the most pressing health-related challenges of our time.”
“These and other efforts throughout the professional healthcare community are working to reinforce the Veterans Affairs health system and secure the services and opportunities for veterans that they and their families so much deserve,” said Starck, holder of the Huffington Foundation Chair in Nursing Education Leadership and the John P. McGovern Distinguished Professorship in Nursing. “UTHealth School of Nursing is proud and eager to participate in these initiatives.”
More than 525 nursing schools in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have pledged by 2014 to enhance the quality of health care available to veterans and their families by signing on to support the Joining Forces campaign. To view schools that have signed the pledge, see: http://www.aacn.nche.edu/joining-forces/participating-schools