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School of Nursing Simulation Technology Mentioned in Medical Training Magazine

The School of Nursing was mentioned in the Simulation and Training Center section of Medical Training Magazine volume five issue 3 of 2016.

The article highlights the nursing program for its Virtual Reality Nursing Simulation with Custom Haptic System for Patient Safety, wearable technology that lets nursing students practice simulations at lower cost than standardized training.

“The simulation uses Optic Rift and a custom haptic (manipulation through touch) system similar to video game technology to give nursing students practice on common medical procedures,” said the magazine. “The university’s pilot study of the new technology showed promise in the student’s accuracy and ability to perform the actual procedures… and now the team is applying for funding to expand its pilot, improve the virtual reality platform, and possibly introduce new features like tactile feedback.”

Read more about the Custom Haptic System here.

Boise State Health Sciences Students Affect Curriculum in the Boise School District

Healthy Habits, Healthy U (HHHU), a community outreach initiative involving Boise State Health Sciences students and designed to teach and reinforce positive habits in children, has officially become part of the required eighth grade curriculum in the Boise School District health classes.

HHHU is a collaboration between St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI), Boise State University, and the Boise School District. The program started in April 2013 and to date has reached over 3,000 fourth and eight-grade students.

The program consists of two days of lesson plans and focuses on the positive connection between increased physical activity and healthy food beverage choices with reduced cancer risks. Day one is taught by the classroom teacher who focuses on what cancer is and how healthy habits can reduce cancer risks. Day two consists of St. Luke’s MSTI and Boise State faculty and students reinforcing the previous day’s lesson using interactive discussions and hands-on activities.

St. Luke’s pathology lab provides cancerous and non-cancerous tissue samples for students to examine. The samples give the students a more tangible understanding of how poor health habits can increase cancer risks and impact the functions of various organs.

At the end of the lessons, the students share their current poor health habits and how they can improve their behaviors. All students receive a parental handout about the program and useful tips on how to decrease the risk of cancer.

In the fall of 2015, a short-term outcome evaluation was conducted to assess the effectiveness of the HHHU program. Pretests and posttests were used to measure increased knowledge and behavioral intent in the 439 participants. The students who participated in HHHU before the study more accurately identified unhealthy habits and provided a way to replace said habits with healthy ones.

The analysis of the study data suggested that HHHU is increasing students’ knowledge about cancer and the health habits that influence the cancer risk. HHHU will continue to seek evaluation to reinforce the evidence-based program.

Alexis Rowland Receives National Award

Alexis RowlandAlexis Rowland, business manager for the College of Health Sciences, received the National Association of Educational Office Professionals (NAEOP) Administrator of the Year award during the annual NAEOP conference awards banquet on July 14 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Rowland began at Boise State in the summer of 2007 as the management assistant for the School of Nursing. She previously worked at the University of California Los Angeles for 17 years in various human resources positions including payroll; system support, training and special projects; and academic personnel manager. Rowland earned the Boise State College of Health Sciences Excellence in Staff Service Award in 2010 for her outstanding service to the college. She also received the Idaho Association of Educational Office Professionals Administrator of the Year award in 2015.

Rowland is an advocate for staff, encouraging staff to attend and arranging for financial support  for professional development opportunities. She wants her colleagues to excel and she achieves this through inclusion, respect and understanding the value of others – not just what she sees as important, but knowing what is important to her colleagues. She believes that showing support in both word and deed makes everyone better employees, better citizens and better individuals.

One of Rowland’s NAEOP award recommendation letters stated that Rowland “is fearless in terms of protecting and standing up for her employees. She will move mountains and make as many changes as needed to obtain equity for her staff. She has great vision and uses her leadership skills to put the pieces in place to realize the change – all the while advocating for her employees.”

“The College of Health Sciences has experienced tremendous growth in the past five years which has benefited Boise State students, regional health professionals and the state of Idaho. Many hard working people have been involved with the work that has been necessary to be successful in this endeavor. Alexis Rowland has been critical in this effort,” states Tim Dunnagan, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “She does her work with a positive attitude and a wonderful demeanor. Employees such as Alexis are the reason why the College of Health Sciences is successful. She is to be commended for her contributions. We are so proud of her being recognized nationally.”

CAP Takes On Rural Australia

Ed Baker

Ed Baker

Ed Baker, director of the Center for Health Policy, in partnership with David Schmitz, chief rural officer and program director of Rural Training Tracks at the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, have partnered with the University of Melbourne to implement their Community Apgar Program (CAP), which examines issues surrounding physician retention and recruitment, in rural areas of Australia.

Though CAP has been implemented in many U.S. states including: Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Alaska, Indiana, Montana, Maine, Utah, and Iowa this is the first time the program has traveled internationally. The program aims to help communities better understand the important issues related to physician recruitment and retention.

Baker, Schmitz, and Daniel Terry, researcher at the University of Melbourne, chose to implement CAP in 14 Australian communities to help identify strength and improvement areas for rural Australia’s capacity to recruit and retain physicians. Center for Health Policy staff, led by Lisa MacKenzie, senior research associate, analyzed questionnaire data from those communities, produced reports, and created an international database to help communities address physician workforce challenges.

Schmitz traveled to Australia last fall to assist in presenting the results from the 14 facilities that participated in CAP. Baker, Schmitz and Terry worked to organize data from Australian communities to identify factors for action.

Map of AustraliaSaid Terry, “Implementing CAP started a new conversation that health services had not previously had about family physician recruitment and retention.”

Additional healthcare workforce projects in Australia are anticipated in the 2016-2017 time period.

As a result of the recognized need for recruiting and retaining family physicians in Idaho during their study, Baker and Schmitz, supported by the Idaho State Office of Rural Health, developed CAP in 2007. The tool has proven useful in creating a database to identify trends, overarching themes, and best practices in specific communities at the national and international level. The program utilizes the Community Apgar Questionnaire to assess and provide individualized information for Critical Access Hospitals (CAH), Community Health Centers (CHC), and rural health clinics to improve their health care workforce planning.

Picture of Dave Schmitz and Daniel Terry.

Dave Schmitz and Daniel Terry

Through growing partnerships with state Offices of Rural Health, Area Health Education Consortium, state hospital associations, and 3RNet, this project grew to serve communities and states across the US, and now Australia. Beyond the CAH tool, tools have also been developed in cooperation with partners for recruitment in CHC’s, rural health clinics, and for recruitment of nurses. Future work will include tool development for recruitment of leadership, such as rural hospital CEOs.

Regions using CAP receive an analysis of specific comparative strengths and challenges that certain communities face, providing results in actionable plans. Communities also obtain information that they may utilize for addressing state-specific issues as well as to establish an evidence based platform for the advocacy of those issues. Participants in CAP add to the database and develop and implement the ‘best practices’ across their community networks.

CAP enables researchers and health care providers to gain an overall understanding of, appreciation for, and

Dave Schmitz and a kangaroo share a selfie.

Dave Schmitz and a kangaroo share a selfie.

identification of solutions for specific communities. For example, CAP identified Idaho’s strengths as: recreational opportunities, internet access, employment status, community need/physician support, loan repayment, transfer arrangements, income guarantee, competition, stability of physician workforce, ancillary staff workforce, and community volunteer opportunities. Idaho’s greatest challenges were: access to mental health, schools, shopping and other services; few or no provisions of allied mental health services; lack of spousal satisfaction; lack of access to electronic medical records; lack of access to larger community; perception of community; lack of obstetrics providers; and too small of a nursing workforce.

Boise State University, in its collaboration with the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho and now the University of Melbourne at Shepparton, contributes  to better health and access to care in rural and remote communities increasing the amount of and improving access  to academic literature. Boise State serves as a content expert in the area of physician recruitment and retention in rural communities along with its collaborating partners. Boise State, through CAP, continues to make an impact directly in rural communities, one community at a time.

Meet Marilyn O’Mallon – the new Associate Director in the School of Nursing

Marilyn O'MallonMarilyn O’Mallon is no stranger to the Boise State School of Nursing, though she just moved to Boise from Savannah, Georgia. O’Mallon has been teaching in the program as adjunct faculty for five years. Now she assumes a new role – associate director for the RN-BS Completion Track, the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs at Boise State.

“I am especially impressed by the professional caliber of every member of the team in the School of Nursing,” said O’Mallon. “Every single person contributes such a significant skill to enhance the quality of the programs.”

For the last thirteen years, O’Mallon has been an associate professor in Savannah, Georgia at Armstrong State University, part of the Georgia university system. She has been running Armstrong’s RN-BSN program for the last six years; a role closely related to her new position. O’Mallon feels that online education is critical in “offering flexibility for students who are balancing work, life, and studies.”

O’Mallon worked as a civilian in military health care facilities in the United States and Germany for more than 16 years. O’Mallon’s specialty areas of interest include palliative/hospice care, bereavement care, mental health nursing, perioperative care and family practice. Her doctoral dissertation research at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia focused on caregiver perceptions of social support and family relationships in bereavement.

Applying for the leadership position in the Boise State School of Nursing was an easy decision for O’Mallon. She was already familiar with the university and school through her work as an adjunct faculty member and has always admired the team spirit at Boise State. Now she is excited to be more directly involved with the School of Nursing teams.

Meet the New Associate Dean for Health Sciences

Joelle PowersFor the past four years, Joelle Powers has supported graduate students as the School of Social Work’s master of social work coordinator. In July, she assumed a new role: associate dean in the College of Health Sciences, replacing outgoing associate dean Ron Pfeiffer.

The position will transition her from working primarily with students in the nationally-ranked MSW program – Powers also was an associate professor in the school – to taking on a more administrative role within the college, one that supports faculty as well as students.

“I’ve loved teaching the next line of practitioners, while still being able to conduct research and connect with vulnerable populations,” Powers said. “But this new role is exciting, too. Being an associate dean is centered around supporting faculty and students in a different way, at a different level. I need to be meeting with other schools and departments — what do they see as needs and how can we better support them?”

The college has its challenges. For instance, the School of Social Work is grappling with how to best support students who aren’t physically on campus. The school’s incredibly popular online MSW program debuted in January. During its last admissions phase, the online program accepted just 30 percent of applicants.

“It’s an incredibly steep learning curve, supporting students who aren’t physically on campus,” Powers said. “On the other hand, this program is so popular because for the first time, we’re able to provide incredibly flexible programming. Students have jobs, they have families, and right now our face-to-face program is only offered full time. By allowing students to take one class at a time online, and pause if they need to, we’re better meeting student needs and demands in a way we weren’t able to. In fact, I was surprised by how many of our online students are local.”

The role of associate dean is not an unfamiliar one for Powers, who served as associate dean at University of North Carolina’s Chapel Hill campus before moving to Boise with her husband and two young sons. Her primary research interest in North Carolina, and in Idaho, has been examining mental health in elementary schools, and bringing mental health experts to local schools to provide direct, consistent services to students whose needs wouldn’t otherwise be met.

While Powers said her first goal as associate dean is to listen to faculty and staff to better grasp the needs of the college, she’s quick to identify pressing needs in the Boise community.

“The needs are rapidly changing,” she said. “We’ve been identified as a resettlement area, we’re having an incredibly quick increase in refugee populations and we don’t have the infrastructure to serve them well at this point – like language barriers that keep us from providing high-quality care.”

Powers hopes to work with faculty and students to change that. She first discovered her passion for social work after taking a volunteer trip to Zambia and Zimbabwe in college.

“After seeing poverty in such an extreme level, I decided that whatever my career, I needed to be doing something in social justice,” she explained. “My senior year, I took an introduction to social work class on a fluke and it changed the course of my life. I applied and got into an MSW social work program in San Diego. The rest is history.”

Kinesiology Emeritus Professor Publishes Latest Fitness Textbook

Werner Hoeger, emeritus professor of kinesiology, recently finished writing the latest edition of his fitness textbooks (this is the 63rd, all combined) and has been running track and field master’s events. Books include “Fitness and Wellness,” “Principles and Labs for Fitness and Wellness,” and “Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness.”

IMG_2566-500x333In addition, he finished third at the USA Track and Field Indoor National Championships in the mile, and third and fourth, respectively, in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter races at the National Senior Games. Hoeger is a former Venezuelan national champion in gymnastics and competed for Venezuela in luge at both the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Games.

Hoeger reached All-American status with USA Track and Field in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Hoeger, third from right, on the medals stand.

Hoeger, third from right, on the medals stand.

Age-Friendly City Assessment of Boise Results to be Presented at American Public Health Association

Sarah Toevs, director of the Center for the Study of Aging, and Tami Cirerol, graduate research assistant for the center, will present findings from an age-friendly city assessment of Boise, which was conducted through the Center for the Study of Aging last year, at the annual conference of the American Public Health Association in Denver, Colorado, this fall.

The findings also were presented to the Boise City Council this year. Overall, survey and focus group participants viewed Boise as a friendly community, where people are courteous to older adults. There was high praise for local organizations, such as the friendly staff at the Fort Boise Senior Center and the age-friendly activities at the Idaho Botanical Garden.

Gaps identified by key informants were related to inclusion, accessibility and affordability. For example, almost 40 percent of older adults reported not being “regularly consulted by public, volunteer and commercial services on how to serve them better.”

Overlaying maps of demographic distributions and income levels with available services and transportation routes identified gaps in access to social and health related resources.

Uwe Reischl Presents Research in Australia

Uwe ReischlUwe Reischl, professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health, presented a research paper at the ninth International Textile Bioengineering and Informatics Symposium hosted by the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, July 12-15, 2016. Reischl was an invited plenary keynote speaker. His paper, titled “Evaporative Cooling of Wet Clothing,” was co-authored with Kylie Pace, a graduate student in the master of health science program, Conrad Colby, professor emeritus of health science, and Ravindra Goonetilleke, professor at the Hong Kong University of Science of Technology in Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong.

The paper presented results of wind-tunnel tests performed on selected textile fabrics exposed to controlled air flow, air temperature and humidity and containing various levels of moisture. The study revealed short-term and long-term cooling phenomena for cotton, polyester, nylon and silk, including multi-layer configurations. The findings provide the foundation for the design and development of new garments that provide optimal evaporative cooling of sweat in hot environments and during heavy physical exertion. The findings are applicable to occupational health and safety concerns and sports medicine.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers Now Has Lifespan and Statewide Reach

Twelve participants from across Idaho took part in the two-day leader training for the Powerful Tools for Caregivers (PTC) program, ensuring that family caregivers in the Gem State have access to the support they need to navigate the challenges of caring for a loved one.

PTC is an evidence-based workshop series designed to help unpaid caregivers manage the stress of providing care for a family member, friend, or neighbor with a chronic health condition. Originally developed for caregivers of older adults, the PTC curriculum has recently been expanded to include caregivers of children with special needs.

Idaho now has PTC leaders embedded in throughout the State in the Area Agencies on Aging and Community Action Partnership agencies in Lewiston, Idaho Falls, and Pocatello; Syringa Hospital and Clinic in Grangeville; Strengthening Villages in Coeur d’Alene; Terry Reilly Health Services in Nampa; and Jannus, Inc., in Boise.

The training, coordinated by the Idaho Caregiver Alliance, was funded by a National Lifespan Respite grant administered by the Idaho Commission on Aging in partnership with the Center for the Study on Aging at Boise State University. The PTC initiative is one of the projects of the Alliance and is designed to improve access to quality support and resources to family caregivers. For more information about the Alliance visit, alliance/.