Category Archives: Prenatal and neonatal care

Oct 3 2014

Meeting the Needs of Children in Partnership with Nurses and Nurse Practitioners

Sunny G. Hallowell, PhD, APRN, is a postdoctoral fellow, and Danielle Altares Sarik, MSN, APRN, a predoctoral fellow, at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Hallowell is also a Leonard Davis Institute Fellow. Both are pediatric nurse practitioners serving on the executive board of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Pennsylvania Delaware Valley Chapter. Monday, October 6, is National Child Health Day.

Sunny G. Hallowell Sunny G. Hallowell

Many Americans may not know that children born in the United States are less likely to survive to their fifth birthday than children born in other high-income peer countries. The United States falls at the bottom of the Commonwealth Fund’s recently released “Mirror, Mirror” report, ranking last out of 11 countries for infant mortality.  

As children hold the greatest potential to achieve good health, high infant and child mortality may be particularly surprising.  Early lifestyle and health care decisions can set children on a trajectory that determines their health for a lifetime.  

Danielle Altares Sarik Danielle Altares Sarik

As a country, we can do more to ensure the health of our youngest and most vulnerable population. Using nurses and nurse practitioners (NP) to the highest level of their education and training is one strategy. Robust use of nurses and NPs can offer solutions to improve infant and child survival rates through prenatal, postnatal and early childhood health surveillance. 

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Sep 9 2014

In the Media: TV Show Zooms in on Birthplace of Midwifery in America

This is part of the September 2014 issue of Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge.

Nurse-midwifery took a turn in the media spotlight last month during a television talk show in Kentucky, the “birthplace” of midwifery and family nursing practice in America.

In a half-hour segment on Kentucky Educational Television, TV host Renee Shaw interviewed officials from Frontier Nursing University, the longest continuously operating and largest midwifery program in the country. The university will mark its 75th anniversary in October.

Nurse midwives and nurse practitioners “really want to make their community a better place, and they know from working in the system that, as nurses, they can do that,” said Julie Marfell, DNP, APRN, FAANP, dean of nursing at Frontier Nursing University.

Midwifery got its official start in America thanks to Mary Breckenridge, a nurse from a prominent political family who was born in the 1880s. After the deaths of her first husband and both of her children, Breckinridge decided to devote her life to improving health and health care. In 1925, she founded the Frontier Nursing Service in Hyden, Ky., a remote and unserved part of the country, so she could bring British midwifery practices to the United States. The Frontier Nursing Service later added the nation’s first schools of midwifery and family nurse practice.

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Mar 18 2014

RWJF Scholar Recognized for Research to Protect Preemies from Hypothermia

Robin Knobel, PhD, RN, is an associate professor at the Duke University School of Nursing and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholar (2010-2013). The University of Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) School of Nursing recently recognized her with its Distinguished Alumna award.


Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on the award! What does it mean for you and for your research?

Robin Knobel: I was truly honored to receive this award from UNC-CH because it recognizes my achievement thus far in my career in my area of research around improving thermal stability with premature infants. I was given great support as a doctoral student at UNC-CH through mentorship in research from faculty who are leaders as nurse scientists. To be recognized by alumni and faculty of the UNC-CH School of Nursing is a tremendous honor.

HCB: You received the award for your research into physiologic processes related to thermoregulation and perfusion in extremely premature infants. Can you explain what this means in lay terms?

Knobel: Yes. Premature infants are born too early to be able to keep themselves warm through the normal methods of heat production. Normally, infants up to one year of age do this through a metabolic production of heat, instead of shivering. Premature infants lack necessary components to accomplish efficient production of heat and consequently can become very cold if exposed to cold air after birth and through stabilization in the neonatal unit. They often experience hypothermic body temperatures during the early weeks after birth, which can lead to instability and possible lasting insults such as brain hemorrhage, infection, or even death. My research is studying the mechanisms around thermal stability in premature infants and ways to prevent bad outcomes from hypothermia.

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Aug 6 2013

A Doctor and Mother of a Premature Baby Helps Test a Mobile App for Parents of Special-Needs Infants

Nwando Eze, MD, MPH, is a neonatal fellow and mother of two practicing in Orange, California. When she was a pediatric resident, she helped test Estrellita, a smartphone app designed to support parents of infants with special health needs.  Estrellita is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).


I smile as I note the increase in weight Ozuli has had in the last month.  Having spent two-and-a-half months with Ozuli in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), I learned quickly that weight gain with minimal to no other problems was as close to an ideal situation as any parent could ask for in the NICU.

Ozuli was born two months early at 29 weeks unexpectedly.  I was in my second year of pediatric residency and had a three-year-old already and had no problems with my previous pregnancy. So it was quite a surprise when at 29 weeks I began contracting intermittently and the contractions didn’t stop until Ozuli was born. I was put to sleep for the delivery and so did not get to see her until the next day, which just happened to fall on Mother’s Day. That day was the beginning of our two-month journey in the NICU—a journey I found to be the scariest and yet most blessed time in my life.

A few weeks before we were discharged, I agreed to enroll in a study testing a mobile health application that allowed parents of preterm infants to record ongoing health-related information about their infants. I was given a smartphone with the app in which I was to record events like daily diaper counts, daily weights, how fussy Ozuli was that day, my own daily moods, doctor’s appointment times, and follow-up visits.

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Jul 30 2013

Quotable Quotes About Nursing, August 2013

This is part of the August 2013 issue of Sharing Nursing's Knowledge.

“I had a very romanticized, idealized view of nursing [growing up], as did many nurses at that time ... The Army provided all of my education for that initial nursing degree. It was an incredible program ... I was able to put it all together with the nursing background and the leadership from the military and to land the first public health leadership job in my career ... There weren’t that many people in (the field) and the funding really wasn’t there at the time. To me, that was very attractive. It was like pioneering in an area, at least in Ohio ... What I did have the ability to do [as chief nursing officer with the American Red Cross] was go in and design the nursing system so it would work a little better, not just in disasters but across all of the business lines.”
-- Sharon Stanley, PhD, RN, alumna, RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program, Accomplished Nurse’s Career has Roots in Military, Chillicothe, Chillicothe Gazette, July 29, 2013

“Journos [journalists] who say they’re hard-boiled cause they see so much should know ICU nurses see more in a week. And come out kind.

I just want to say that ICU nurses are remarkable people. Thank you for what you do for our loved ones.

ICU seems to be staffed by good, smart young docs who think they know everything, and wise RNs who really do.”

-- Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition, in tweets from his dying mother’s bedside, ‏@nprscottsimon, July 23, 2013

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Jul 25 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Mortality rates for non-drinkers, screening newborns for rare diseases, air conditioners’ impact on climate, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni and grantees. Some recent examples:

Previous research has shown that non-drinkers have a slightly higher mortality risk than light drinkers, and a study co-authored by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus Patrick Krueger, PhD, is the first to examine the characteristics and mortality risks of non-drinker subgroups to explain the phenomenon. The study confirms that some, but not all, subgroups of non-drinkers have a higher mortality rate than light drinkers, and uncovers some of the reasons. Among the outlets to report on the findings: Health Canal, the Aspen Business Journal, Science Daily and the Denver Journal.

The research of Health & Society Scholars alumnus Andrew Papachristos, PhD, is informing a new technique used by the Austin Police District in Chicago to quell gang violence, the Chicago Tribune reports. Papachristos found that much of the violence on the West Side of Chicago involves a relatively small number of victims and offenders. The Austin District has put those people on a “heat list” and will begin visiting them individually to issue warnings to stop the violence.

States that have expanded family planning services under Medicaid have seen an increase in women receiving potentially life-saving Pap tests and breast exams, according to a study led by Health & Society Scholar Laura Wherry, PhD. Health Canal and Medical XPress are among the outlets to report on the findings.

Rather than becoming depressed or anxious, people who find out they have a gene that predisposes them to Alzheimer’s disease often take steps to reduce their risk, including exercise, healthier diets, and vitamins and medications, according to a study led by RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research Jason Karlawish, MD. GenomeWeb reports on the findings.

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Jun 20 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Verbal abuse among nurses, deinstitutionalization, prenatal genetic testing, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni and grantees. Some recent examples:

Nearly half of newly licensed registered nurses have been verbally abused by colleagues, according to a study by the RWJF-funded RN Work Project. Those who reported being verbally abused had lower job satisfaction and unfavorable perceptions of their work environment, and were more likely to say they intended to leave their jobs within the next year. and the News Press report on the findings. Read more about the study.

Amy Dockser Marcus, AB, recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research and award-winning journalist for her coverage of cancer, wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal about long-term health effects for adult survivors of childhood cancer. Research shows that more than 95 percent of adult survivors suffer from a chronic health condition by the age of 45, the story reports.

Harold Pollack, PhD, MPP, wrote a piece for the Washington Post Wonkblog about the successes and failures of deinstutionalization. On the whole, he writes, moving individuals with disabilities out of large institutions into family- or community-based settings improved the lives of millions of Americans living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, like his brother-in-law. However, it was much less successful for Americans suffering from severe mental illness. Pollack is a recipient of an Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, and an alumnus of the RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research program.

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Apr 15 2013

RWJF Scholar Invents Tool to Detect Pain

It’s made of glass, and it glows and changes colors—but it’s not a crystal ball. It’s an “orb” and it’s poised to revolutionize the way providers assess and treat pain in premature infants.

Martin Schiavenato holds glass orb

Martin Schiavenato, PhD, RN, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholar, has invented a revolutionary tool to assess pain in premature infants and potentially protect them from its negative developmental effects.

The glass orb translates behavioral and physiological signs of pain in infants—such as body gestures and physiological signals like heart rate metrics—into a “real time” visual display of pain levels. It changes color depending on the subject’s pain levels, giving clinicians readouts on infant pain.

Learn more about how it works.