Preparing Nurses for Critical Disaster Care

No one can predict when the next disaster will affect the United States – or what that disaster will look like. But in all likelihood, nurses will be among the first responders. Now because of a unique preparation program from LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing, more than 1,500 RNs and nursing students nationwide are prepared to take on the challenge of disaster response.

Nurses and other health care professionals in a motorboat navigating a flooded New Orleans street after Hurricane Katrina.

After Hurricane Katrina, nurses and other health care professionals played a vital role in providing care, often in undesirable conditions with limited access to medical supplies.

Inspired by the integral role nurses played following Hurricane Katrina, a disaster of unprecedented magnitude that devastated the city, four School of Nursing faculty members launched the Cornerstone of Cultural Competency During the Disaster Cycle (C3DC) Program in 2018. The program is designed to improve nurses’ ability to support vulnerable populations and diverse cultural groups in the face of disasters, especially large-scale storms and floods that are becoming increasingly common.

The program’s training modules were developed by Stephanie Pierce, PhD, MN, RN, CNE, Program Director for Baccalaureate Articulation, CARE and Nurse Educator MSN Programs; Marsha Bennett, DNS, APRN, CNE, Director of the Louisiana Center for Promotion of Optimal Health Outcomes: A Joanna Briggs Institute Center of Excellence and St. Charles General Hospital Auxiliary Professor in Nursing; Denise Danna, DNS, RN, NEA-BC, CNE, FACHE, Adjunct Faculty, Director of Academic-Practice Partnership; and Rose M. Schaubhut, DNP, MN, MPH, NEA-BC, Assistant Dean for Clinical Nursing Education.

Promoting Culturally Competent Care

The C3DC educational model is based on the Domains of Nursing Cultural Competence Education/Formation set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), integrating Patricia Benner’s three specific areas of nursing professional development: theory/scientific methods, skillful practice, and professional identify and agency. These domains are developed for culturally competent nursing practice during times of disaster using the International Council of Nursing (ICN) Framework of Disaster Nursing Competencies, which include the four phases of disaster response: prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

“Users can purchase individual modules or the entire program. It can be used as a refresher or as new information for nursing education.”

Stephanie Pierce, PhD, MN, RN, CNE

Using the C3DC model, nurse educators cover content addressing the phases of emergency management, health care disparities, cultural competency and the needs of vulnerable populations. Program participants learn to care for and promote health and well-being in culturally diverse populations; apply evidence-based practice models in disasters; build communication, collaboration, delegation, coordination and evaluation skills; and assist people in navigating the health care system.

Disaster Care Fundamentals at Your Fingertips

A cell phone with the LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing logo.

Recently, in collaboration with the LSU Health Sciences Center information technology department, Dr. Pierce and her colleagues developed the LSUHNO Nursing C3DC app, available for purchase in the Apple App Store®, Microsoft Store® and Google Play™. It costs $199.99.

“The purpose of the application is to make readily available all of the modules for the C3DC Program,” says Dr. Pierce. “Users can purchase individual modules or the entire program. It can be used as a refresher or as new information for nursing education.”

The C3DC app has been used by nurses already taking the continuing education courses and by those who have not undergone C3DC training. Both the app and the courses are helpful resources to prepare nurses for responding to and treating victims in need of critical help during and following disasters.

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