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What is NNEPI?

The National Nurse Emergency Preparedness Initiative (NNEPI) is a national initiative for the advancement of
education and policy related to nurse emergency preparedness.

History of NNEPI

With more than 2.5 million nurses nationwide, nurses comprise the largest percentage of the healthcare workforce and are one of the groups of professionals called upon to care for victims of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) events. Yet despite the fact that nurses are one of America's key lines of defense against threats to the health of its citizens, few nurses have been trained how to handle these kinds of events.

Recognizing the critical role that nurses play in our nation's homeland security efforts, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Domestic Preparedness awarded The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences a $2 million grant for the National Nurse Emergency Preparedness Initiative (NNEPI) under its FY2004 Competitive Training Grants Program. Led by Principal Investigator Jean E. Johnson, PhD, FAAN (Senior Associate Dean of Health Science Programs) and Co-Investigator Ellen M. Dawson, PhD, ANP (Chair of the Department of Nursing Education), NNEPI is a web-based training initiative for nurses focused on providing opportunities for dynamic and interactive application of both theory and practice through scenario-based learning.

Program Goals

The goals of NNEPI include:
  • Increase nurses' awareness of their roles and responsibilities in preparing
    for, responding to and recovering from CBRNE events

  • Provide nurses with comprehensive emergency preparedness training,
    including specific strategies for caring for "special needs populations"

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of a comprehensive emergency preparedness
    training program for nurses
GW and GMU Collaboration

While George Washington University (GW) is responsible for developing the NNEPI course, GW has contracted with George Mason University (GMU) to carry out focus group research regarding nurses' learning needs and expected roles in a disaster or emergency and to catalog the learning object and assets (photos, animations, simulations, videoclips, etc) within the existing ODP-funded web-based courses for use ultimately in the learning object repository being developed by Drs. Johnson and Dawson for the Office of Domestic Preparedness. Led by P.J. Maddox, PhD, RN, the GMU project team is conducting research that will provide information and feedback to inform NNEPI as well as future training initiatives.

The NNEPI Course

Few health care facilities can afford to send all of their nurses to a face-to-face CBRNE training, yet there is a dire need for nurses to receive training that goes beyond awareness-level, didactic content. To address this critical need, Drs. Johnson and Dawson, working in collaboration with the NNEPI project team, are designing the NNEPI web-based course in a manner that incorporates elements of the critical-thinking involved in performance-level training but via an online delivery method. While web-based training cannot substitute for high-quality, performance-level classroom training, the reality is that many nurses will never have the opportunity to learn many of the key performance-level skills unless such content is offered via the web. NNEPI goes beyond teaching nurses the basics about CBRNE - nurses learn how to triage, assess, and treat patients and practice clinical-decision making within the online course learning environment.

Using a variety of media and interactive learning strategies, the NNEPI course is designed to teach nurses working in hospitals, home health and hospice, long-term care, ambulatory care, occupational health, public health, and schools how to:
  • Prepare for the physical, psychological and safety aspects of CBRNE events.

  • Recognize indicators of possible CBRNE events during routine care of patients.

  • Notify appropriate authorities when a CBRNE event is suspected.

  • Protect both the nurse and the public through the use of universal/standard precautions, personal protective equipment (PPE), decontamination, evidence collection, and isolation/quarantine precautions.

  • Assess, diagnose, and treat injuries and illnesses associated with CBRNE events, with a focus on the unique concerns of special needs populations.

  • Support the community during the recovery phase after in recovering from a CBRNE event.
NNEPI and the National Response Plan

The design of the NNEPI training program supports the national initiative to achieve target levels of capability in protecting against, responding to and recovering from major emergencies that could affect the United States and its territories. The content of the course is mapped to the Universal Task List Taxonomy, which was developed to track the many tasks required to achieve target capability levels The NNEPI course trains nurses to carry out key tasks within the Protect, Respond and Recover missions.

To further strengthen the connection to the National Response Plan, the NNEPI web-based course will include opportunities for interactive application of concepts and skills in the context of scenarios based upon the National Planning Scenarios. These national scenarios reflect the scope, magnitude and complexity of plausible catastrophic terrorist attacks, major disasters and other CBRNE emergencies. By incorporating these scenarios, the NNEPI course will be consistent with training provided to other emergency responders through related initiatives.

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