Leading the Way Toward Disaster Response

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By Lynn Writsel

Two new graduate options now offered by the Hopkins School of Nursing will prepare nurses for pivotal leadership roles during disasters and mass casualty incidents. The Health Systems Management: Emergency Preparedness/Disaster Response options—a clinical nurse specialist track in the Master of Science in Nursing program and a Post-Master’s certificate option—are designed for nurses seeking strategic skills in planning, managing, and responding to large-scale emergencies or disasters.

Associate professor Marguerite Littleton-Kearney, DNSc, RN, FAAN, a captain in the Navy Nurse Corps (Reserve Component), designed the program in response to her concerns following the 9/11 disasters and her military experiences. In the event of mass casualty incidents, bioterrorism, and natural disasters, Littleton-Kearney notes, nurses are uniquely positioned to assume leadership roles in the education of first responders, and to coordinate hospital triage planning, disaster drill design and implementation, and patient management.

The new curriculum will provide graduates with the tools to embark on a career path to assume leadership roles for emergency preparedness in hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory centers, military, government agencies, and other settings throughout the health care system.

“After 9/11, all of us in the nursing profession became aware that we must be more prepared to lead and deliver a comprehensive, interdisciplinary response,” says Littleton-Kearney. “At Hopkins we continue to prepare leaders for nursing’s future.”


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