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Jane Williams recently attended the White House’s Joining Forces event, held at the University of Pennsylvania. Williams, who is the dean of Rhode Island College’s School of Nursing, was one of only 20 nursing deans nationwide invited to the event. While there, she also participated in a nursing-leadership summit. Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in education from New York University and a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Rhode Island.
PBN: What is Joining Forces, and what was the purpose of the event you attended at the University of Pennsylvania?
WILLIAMS: Led by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, Joining Forces is a national effort to integrate services provided to military-service members, veterans and their families. The idea is for civilian health professionals to “join forces” with military health professionals to improve care, especially for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Nursing leaders met at the University of Pennsylvania to discuss ways to educate every current and future nurse about issues that overwhelmingly affect returning veterans, including post-traumatic-stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and to develop ways to improve care.
PBN: What topics were discussed during the nursing-leadership conference?
WILLIAMS: The summit included speeches highlighting the outstanding service the troops provide and the unique injuries veterans suffer. The focus was on how nurses from across the country can work together to ensure all nurses are knowledgeable about veterans’ needs. The discussion ranged from how to develop model curricula to expanding the use of the Internet in care. Other important topics were using simulation, sharing resources, the importance of national conferences and raising public awareness.
PBN: How will the Joining Forces goals fit into the current efforts at RIC’s School of Nursing?
WILLIAMS: The School of Nursing will use information from the summit to build on the substantial work we have already done with the Providence VA Medical Center. We have increased student clinical experiences with veterans and developed best practices for veterans’ care. We plan to incorporate strategies learned at the summit and share information with nursing colleagues. •