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Nurses publish lessons learned from Harvey in peer-reviewed journal

Joanne Gay Dishman School of Nursing faculty and students were recently published in “Nursing Education Perspectives,” the premier nurse education journal for scholarship in nursing education and a peer-reviewed,
Nursing Harvey Store
Volunteers working the "store" offering supplies to nursing students in need after Harvey.
bimonthly journal of the National League of Nursing that provides evidence for best practices in nursing.

The article, “A School of Nursing’s Response to Hurricane Harvey,” describes the impact of Harvey on Southeast Texas, specifically the effect on Lamar University and the School of Nursing, how the School of Nursing responded to the natural disaster and the outcome.

“We just wanted to share our response to Harvey with others in nursing education, said Ruthie Robinson, director of graduate nursing studies and an author of the paper. “We didn’t find a lot of published works out there about what others had done in similar situations, so we shared what worked for students and faculty at Lamar University.”

The article details not only the extent of the losses but also considers the mental and emotional toll the devastation caused. The School of Nursing’s recovery focus sought to help its students and faculty cope with both the physical losses – homes, clothing, cars, food, books, equipment - as well as the stress associated with loss.

The School of Nursing’s disaster plan, as described in the article, featured a communication strategy, efforts to provide housing for those misplaced, donation collection and distribution to those most in need and a slow reentry back into school.

“With the online students, we went on as usual, except for the ones who lived in our area,” said Robinson. “We were very flexible with due dates for everyone. For those in the face-to-face classroom, because we couldn’t get to the campus - it was closed - we kept them engaged on Blackboard. Lectures and handouts were communicated there, and some faculty recorded lectures just for them. Even though there weren’t assignments due, they were kept in the groove of things. When they came back, there was a lot of TLC because it was a very emotional time. It was a trying time for all of us, so we came back slowly and worked with everybody to help catch them up.”

Although the School of Nursing celebrates its successful recovery – there were no withdrawals, and 16 seniors who were directly affected by the hurricane were able to take the NCLEX®-RN and

pass on the first attempt – Ruthie said they learned some things and will be even better prepared in the future.

“One thing we found out was that we needed a hard copy of everyone’s contact information. It’s all electronic,” said Ruthie. “We have faculty contacts on paper, but you don’t always carry that around. So we needed faculty and students contact information in one place. We did make contact with everybody, but it was hard to do.”

Robinson said the university was extremely responsive and helpful, even housing one of the nursing faculty members who lost everything in the flood waters. She also said the outpouring of support was overwhelming and much appreciated.

“The University was helpful with our students, and nursing education across the country was paying attention because they reached out and collected money, sent gift cards and books, all unsolicited. It was wonderful,” said Robinson. “Unfortunately, things do happen and will happen, so we just wanted to share our experience in hopes of helping others in the future.”

Authors of the article from the Dishman School of Nursing, Lamar University include:

Ruthie Robinson, PhD, RN, CNS, FAEN, CEN, NEA-BC, director of graduate nursing studies
Gina Hale, PhD, RN, CNE, director of undergraduate nursing studies
Iva Hall, PhD, RN, director of undergraduate nursing studies, now retired
Stacey Knight, DNP, RN, CNE, articulation coordinator
Britton Melancon, BSN, RN, staff nurse at Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, who was a student when this article was written.
Patti Moss, MSN, RN, assistant professor
Cynthia K. Stinson, PhD, APRN, CNS, RN-BC, school of nursing chair
Lori Wenner, MSN, RN, instructor.

For more information, contact Dr. Robinson at ruthie.robinson@lamar.edu.