On December 9, 2014, VEMEC led a workshop in conjunction with the 5th Annual Advancing & Redefining Communities (ARC) conference in Los Angeles, CA to discuss Nurses as Leaders in Disaster Preparedness & Response. The devastation caused by recent disasters has led to a heightened awareness of the importance of preparedness in healthcare. The 2011 IOM/RWJF report, The Future of Nursing, Leading Change, Advancing Health brought a greater understanding of the nursing profession’s breadth and untapped potential at a time when major disasters are occurring with increasing frequency. Nurses represent the largest segment of the US healthcare workforce, are employed in diverse settings, collaborate with a broad range of healthcare professionals, and are consistently ranked by the public as trusted sources of health information. Further, nurses are the healthcare professionals in highest demand following a disaster when care is needed. In addition to providing care on the frontlines to disaster victims, their families, and the community, nurses also assume significant leadership roles during disasters. Building on the 2011 IOM/RWJF report and the coalitions developed as part of the RWJ/AARP Future of Nursing: Campaign to Action, this event brought together nursing leaders and practitioners to develop an agenda to expand the role of nurses in emergency preparedness and response in the community and health system settings. Presentations and discussions explored:
- The pivotal role nurses can play as patient educators, responders, and decision-makers in disaster preparedness through improved efforts in education/training, practice, research and policy;
- Prior efforts to develop nursing education and competencies for emergency preparedness and response;
- Short- and long-term strategies to expand the role of nurses in emergency preparedness and response;
- Collaboration and partnerships necessary to achieve this goal.
Nurses as Leaders in Disaster Preparedness and Response—A Call to Action
Tener Goodwin Veenema, PhD, MPH, MS, RN, FAAN, Anne Griffin, MPH, BSN, RN, CNOR, Alicia R. Gable, MPH, Linda MacIntyre, PhD, RN, RADM Nadine Simons, MS, RN, Mary Pat Couig, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, John J. Walsh Jr., MS, Roberta Proffitt Lavin, PhD, APRN-BC, Aram Dobalian, PhD, JD, & Elaine Larson, PhD, RN, FAAN, CIC
Purpose: To develop a vision for the future of disaster nursing, identify barri- ers and facilitators to achieving the vision, and develop recommendations for nursing practice, education, policy, and research.
Findings: The group developed a vision for the future of disaster nursing, and identified current barriers and opportunities to advance professional disaster nursing. A broad array of recommendations for nursing practice, education, policy, and research, as well as implementation challenges, are summarized in this article.
Conclusions: This project represents an important step toward enhancing nurses’ roles as leaders, educators, responders, policymakers, and researchers in disaster preparedness and response. Nurses and the health and human service organizations that employ them are encouraged to engage in an expansive national dialogue regarding how to best incorporate the vision and recommendations into their individual lives and the organizations for which they work.
Clinical Relevance: Nurses comprise the largest healthcare workforce, and opportunities exist to strengthen disaster readiness, enhance national surge capacity, and build community resiliency to disasters.