UTHSC College of Nursing Awarded Grant to Train Nurses to Handle Crisis Situations

Lisa Schafer of Regional One Health, left, and Sara Day, from the UTHSC College of Nursing, discuss a $16,000 grant to train nurses and other staff at the two institutions to handle crisis situations in health care settings. (Photo by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)

The College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in collaboration with Regional One Health has been awarded a $16,000 grant to train area nurses to handle and defuse crisis situations in hospitals and other health care settings.

The Tennessee Promise of Nursing grant was awarded to the UTHSC College of Nursing’s new Center for Community Partnerships and Nursing Innovation, which was launched in 2017 to develop sustainable partnerships with area institutions to advance health care, foster innovative nursing strategies, reduce health disparities, and improve patient outcomes. The grant was awarded through the Tennessee Center for Health Workforce Development within the Tennessee Hospital Association.

The grant will fund crisis management instructor training for six staff members at Regional One Health and two College of Nursing faculty members in how to recognize escalating behavior and defuse potentially hostile situations. They will then be the trainers, who will teach the entire nursing staff and other staff members at Regional One, and bring the training to nursing students at UTHSC.

To train these trainers, a three-day in-house instructor course will be provided by MOAB (Management of Aggressive Behavior) Training International, Inc., a consulting organization to corporations, law enforcement, academic institutions, health care, and federal agencies on managing aggressive behavior. Training will take place in the classroom and in simulation settings with standardized patients (actors portraying patients) in the new UTHSC Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation.

Sara Day, PhD, RN, FAAN, assistant dean for the Center for Community Partnerships and Nursing Innovation at UTHSC, said crisis situations in health care settings have become a national problem. “There are a lot of patients who get upset, they’re under stress, or family members get upset, and they react often toward the nurse,” she said. The traditional solution in such situations is to call security personnel, however, the best outcomes often result when the nurse is taught how to react to defuse the situation.

“This is something that has gotten a lot of attention lately,” she said.  Learning how to de-escalate a situation can avoid risk of harm to the patient, the nurse, and bystanders.

Lisa Schafer, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, executive vice president, chief operating officer, and chief nursing officer for Regional One Health, identified education and training to prevent and manage aggressive patient situations as a major need for the hospital’s nursing staff. As a result, the center applied for the grant to fund the joint training. “This is a perfect example of collaborating with the community in meeting the needs of the hospitals in the Mid-South,” Dr. Day said.

“Health care providers face the effects of the under-resourced mental health needs and the opioid crises daily,” Schafer said. “Those issues are compounded in our community by poverty and violence. Regional One Health cares for extremely injured, high-risk, vulnerable patients whose anxiety is already off the scale as a result of their condition. Providing our current and future nurses and health care workers with additional skills to de-escalate disruptive behaviors more effectively will insure a more therapeutic outcome for our patients and a safer work environment for our staff. We are thrilled to partner with the UTHSC College of Nursing to develop a sustainable program to elevate the skills of our workforce.”

Bill Jolley, vice president of Rural Issues at the Tennessee Hospital Association and executive director of the Tennessee Center for Health Workforce Development, said the Tennessee Hospital Association is pleased to support the nursing faculty at UTHSC and the clinical staff at Regional One Health.

“Their joint project to train and equip nurses and nursing students with verbal de-escalation skills to prevent and manage potentially violent situations with patients is groundbreaking,” he said.

The Center for Community Partnerships and Nursing Innovation at UTHSC is also working with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare to facilitate nursing research, collaborating with the Shelby County Health Department on a nurse residency partnership, and working with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on global nursing initiatives.