Online Program

A multidisciplinary approach to providing sustainable access to safe water in a developing country

Monday, November 4, 2013

Elizabeth (Libby) Richards, PhD, RN, CHES, School of Nursing, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Vicki L. Simpson, PhD, RN, CHES, School of Nursing, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Background and Issues: Nurses have a unique opportunity to fulfill their social responsibility as health promoters by collaborating with other disciplines to create sustainable solutions to global health issues such as access to safe drinking water. Nursing schools have an obligation to educate students in global health issues however the opportunity to be involved in projects is often limited. Academic-community partnerships addressing global health issues are often unsustainable due to lack of multi-disciplinary involvement.

Description: An innovative educational strategy for integrating global health across disciplines including public health nursing has been created at a Midwest University. This multi-disciplinary service-learning class will develop and evaluate a community-scale water treatment system for use at rural sites in the Dominican Republic (DR). Faculty and students represent diverse academic disciplines (nursing, agricultural economics, biological sciences, engineering). Class activities include a site visit to a partnering non-profit organization and a reconnaissance trip to DR to meet the residents, collect baseline data, and establish means of regular communication. Students are conducting experiments to evaluate the feasibility of different water filtration mechanisms and will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete for further funding to return to the DR for implementation.

Lessons Learned: The multi-disciplinarity of this project provides for new teaching/learning opportunities. Students have the opportunity to work with and understand the perspectives of each discipline involved and the necessity of these disciplines working together to increase the chance for success, sustainability and maximum health impact for populations in developing countries.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Describe a multi-disciplinary educational approach to global health initiatives.

Keyword(s): Water Quality, Public Health Nursing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Simpson is responsible for idea development and project implementation
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.