Shepherd receives $1.4 million grant to help area diabetic patients
Shepherd University’s Department of Nursing Education received a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to develop an inter professional collaborative practice environment for nursing, medical, and allied health professional students.
Dr. Laura Clayton, professor of nursing education, said the grant, titled “CHOICES Program: Changing Health Outcomes for Patients with Diabetes through an Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Environment at Shenandoah Valley Medical System,” will enable students from Shepherd and the West Virginia University School of Medicine Eastern Division to collaborate with healthcare professionals in caring for diabetic patients at Shenandoah Community Health Center in Martinsburg. The program will be an interprofessional collaborative that involves nursing, nutrition, exercise physiology, sociology, and psychology students from Shepherd.
Clayton said the exercise physiology students will help design an exercise program for the patients, the nutrition and nursing students will help them learn how to prepare healthy and nutritious meals, and nursing, psychology, and sociology students will work with support groups helping the patients cope with diabetes. Medical and nursing students will provide health education and work collaboratively with healthcare professionals at Shenandoah Community Health Center.
“Diabetes is a growing problem throughout the U.S. Currently one in 10 West Virginians have diabetes, and that doesn’t count those who are in the pre diabetic stage or are close to becoming diabetic,” Clayton said. “So if we can intervene and help these patients get their blood sugar levels under control, we can prevent or minimize diseases involving the eye, heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. There are numerous diseases that can be caused in patients who do not have their diabetes controlled.”
Clayton said the program’s goal is to work with about 70 patients a year, or about 200 total over the three-year period. The patients will be selected with the help of healthcare providers at the Shenandoah Community Health Center. The patients must be adults who are not pregnant and who have a hemoglobin level greater than seven or patients who are newly diagnosed with diabetes.
“We really want them to have good outcomes with their diabetes and to keep it controlled to prevent the complications that can occur,” she said.
Clayton estimates about 150 students from the nursing, medicine, social work, psychology, family and consumer sciences, and exercise physiology programs will be involved in the project over the three years. She said the program will give the students valuable experience working interprofessionally, which will be important when they enter the job market.
“That’s really how health care is moving-more toward inter professional teams working together in a collaborative effort to improve patient care.” Clayton said. “I’m very excited because it’s going to provide real-world inter professional collaborative experiences for healthcare professional students and aims to improve the health outcomes for diabetic patients. If diabetic patients get their blood glucose levels under control, research has shown it can decrease healthcare costs, hospital admission, and complications of the disease. Our goal will be to make them an informed consumer so that they can manage their diabetes.”