Nursing School Awarded Grant to Prepare Leaders in Infection Prevention

Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing recently received a three-year $812,355 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Advanced Education Nursing grant for the development of a new Population-focused Infection Prevention and Environmental Safety (PIPES) track within the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. This is the first program in the nation that will prepare nurses at the clinical doctorate level for leadership roles in infection prevention and patient and environmental safety.

"The increasingly complex nature of health care requires that nurses recognize and manage emerging issues beyond the individual patient or hospital to be population and prevention focused," said MNSON dean Vicki Keough, PhD, RN-BC, ACNP. "This grant will allow us to prepare advanced practice nurses to enhance the quality and effectiveness of health care through the prevention of healthcare-associated infections, environmental hazards and threats to patient safety."

Diana Hackbarth, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the project director and Ida Androwich, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the co-project director for the PIPES program. This track within the DNP program will build on the schools completely online masters degree in infection prevention. Students will come from diverse backgrounds and geographic locations and will have access to coursework online and through on-campus immersion seminars. The program also will enhance opportunities for interdisciplinary learning through a partnership with Loyolas Public Health Masters students and faculty.

"The PIPES track educates nurses to lead in the design, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based infection prevention and patient safety practices in a complex, rapidly changing health-care environment," Hackbarth says. "Graduates of the program will be well positioned for roles that require collaboration among disciplines, critical analysis of systems and outcomes, and the creation of key improvements in healthcare delivery."

Loyola introduced the DNP degree for advanced practice nursing students in 2009. While PhD nursing programs focus on research, DNP programs prepare students for the highest level of nursing practice. This includes proficiencies in areas that support clinical practice, such as administration, organizational management and policy. DNP graduates also are skilled in assessing evidence, translating research and implementing practical clinical innovations to change care.

"Loyola continues to be a national leader in advanced practice nursing education," Keough says. "The PIPES track will further set our graduates apart in the healthcare setting."