By David Sheridan and Jackie Powder
Last summer, the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing was again one of 91 medical research centers to serve as a training resource for research fellows from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Four fellows from Coppin State University were selected to participate at Hopkins, including two—Leia Osbourne and Dara Foster—who had served as HHMI fellows at the school the previous summer.
Assistant professor Dan Sheridan, PhD, RN, CNS, FAAN, an expert in the field of forensic nursing, returned as a faculty mentor and was newly joined by associate professor Linda Pugh, PhD, RN, FAAN, director of the school’s baccalaureate program.
The students who interned with Sheridan—Osbourne and LaDetra Johnson—helped him to prepare an online manual to educate federal nursing home investigators about the differences between abuse and neglect and the conditions associated with normal aging.
Johnson and Osbourne, both junior nursing majors at Coppin, reviewed information from a wide range of sources on elder abuse and the aging process to determine what to include in the manual that is being developed for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It addresses situations that have led to mistaken conclusions by nursing home investigators. “Nurses and health care professionals need to be trained in the differences” between aging and elder abuse, Osbourne says.
“The information we learned there is the information we’re actually applying this semester at school,” Johnson says of her intern experience. “I feel like I’m a little bit ahead of everyone else now.”
The fellows also helped Sheridan apply for a grant to train forensic nurse examiners. Says Sheridan, “It is an honor to be a part of a program that provides training for future leaders who want to do what I love doing every day.”
Both Johnson and Osbourne say they’re considering careers in forensic nursing, a direct result of their experiences as HHMI fellows.
The other two HHMI fellows, Foster and Alexie Smith, interned with Pugh, the principal investigator of a study on infant feeding. The research program examines whether the intervention of a community health nurse and peer counselor can increase the rate of breastfeeding among low-income mothers.