Online modules focus on caring for vulnerable populations … –

For decades, Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences has focused on improving healthcare for vulnerable populations, recognizing that significant differences exist in healthcare for individuals in these groups. Populations considered vulnerable include racial and ethnic minorities, the economically disadvantaged, residents of rural areas and people with chronic health conditions.
Last year, Jodi Sutherland, clinical associate professor of nursing, created a seven-unit series of online educational modules to help health professionals advance their knowledge of vulnerable populations and factors that affect access to healthcare for people in these groups.
“With these modules, I wanted to strengthen and expand Decker’s curricula focused on vulnerable populations to better prepare nurses to work in and with these communities,” Sutherland says.
The modules, which began in fall 2021, address an overview of vulnerable populations and social determinants of health, routine HIV testing, HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, HIV anti-retroviral therapy, viral hepatitis C, trauma-informed care and sexually transmitted infections.
“The modules include learning objectives, readings from articles and websites, video links, a recorded guest lecture and questions for learners to consider,” Sutherland says. “Each module takes two to three hours to complete.”

Local healthcare providers and other subject experts from Binghamton University serve as guest lecturers. Others involved in the initiative are Mario Ortiz, dean of Decker College; Patrick Leiby, director of technology and innovation at Decker; and Lori Sprague, clinical assistant professor of nursing and assistant director of Decker’s Innovative Simulation and Practice Center.
Healthcare professionals, students or interested community members can register for the modules. There is no cost for this program.
The project is funded by the Barbara H. Chaffee, MD, MPH Educational Fund at the Community Foundation for South Central New York.
By the end of April 2022, 175 learners had completed the series. The majority were undergraduate nursing students — the modules were a required activity for students taking NURS 363, Practice of Nursing IV, in the fall 2021 or spring 2022 semester.
“Most learners reported increased knowledge of the topics covered by the modules along with a willingness to apply the interventions they learned to their clinical practice,” Sutherland says. Many learners also wrote about the need to focus on respecting patients.
“‘I will communicate with patients in a nonjudgmental manner. I will be more understanding of an individual’s lifestyle and background. I will focus on treating every patient with compassion and respect.’ Those are just a few of the statements from our learners,” she adds.
The program will be available until August 2023 and is open to Binghamton nursing students and public health students, registered nurses, healthcare professionals and community members. Nursing continuing professional development credit hours may be available for those who complete the entire program.

Sutherland would like to continue the program past August 2023 if she can secure resources and continued funding. She would also like to add topics to the current lineup based on participant requests.


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