Two Wright State University professors of nursing, Ann M. Stalter, Ph.D., and Deborah L. Ulrich, Ph.D., received funding from the Association of Community Health Nursing Educators to study community health nursing faculty teaching practices specific to environmental health.
The study is a national, peer-reviewed and competitive award aligned with the national teaching research priorities. Research priorities include best practices for teaching future nurses, the impact of workplace and natural environmental exposures on human health, and how best to approach policies aimed at improving population health outcomes.
The descriptive study will use survey methods to determine how environmental health is integrated or not integrated into program outcomes, course descriptions, objectives, content, assignments and evaluations.
Stalter and Ulrich will also assess how faculty integrate systems awareness of environmental health into nursing practice.
Results will inform research methods for a follow-up study and provide the Association of Community Health Nursing Educators with curriculum templates, teaching plans, active teaching strategies, student assignments and sample rubrics.
The result of the study will provide nurses across the country with resources to teach future nurses about how to be effective change agents and advocates for environmental health while performing safe care that advances population health.
Stalter, an Environmental Health-INCS fellow, is a published scholar in systems thinking. She has been recognized by local, state and national authorities as one of Greene County’s most steadfast ambassadors and serves as chair of the Beavercreek Township Zoning Commission, advancing responsible land use.
She said the study will show how service such as hers interfaces nursing practice.
Stalter said there is mounting evidence to support how poorly managed environments negatively influence health, citing factors such as urban sprawl, which can affect mental health, noise-induced hypertension, air pollution and asthma, forever chemicals in soil and water resulting in cancers in utero and across the lifespan, and light pollution resulting in sleep deprivation.
“Florence Nightingale proposed nurses should manipulate the environment to foster health, and 150 years later, nursing schools across the globe remain in the infancy stage of integrating environmental health into their curricula,” said Stalter.
Ulrich, former interim dean of Wright State’s College of Nursing and Health, is a fellow of the National League for Nurses Academy of Nursing Education. She recently received the Alice Hamilton Award for Excellence in Occupational Safety and Health, Education and Guidance category for leadership through science for publishing an educational program for student nurses. She also received the Best Article Research Review of 2018 from the National League for Nurses’ Nursing Perspectives.
“A critical need exists to explore how environmental health is included in nursing education,” said Ulrich. “Filling this need will assist faculty with encouraging students to manipulate the environment to foster health by increasing awareness of environmental health concerns.”