Innovative Simulation Pilot Helps Students Learn About Obesity


Two days during the last week of September Clinical Assistant Professor Beth Lamanna, WHNP, MPH, RN, the innovative leader behind a team of seven undergraduate and graduate faculty and staff, conducted the first of what they hope will be a series of obesity simulations.

Seventeen undergraduate public health nursing students were guided through the IOM’s 2012 report Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health, to see the obesity epidemic through a population health to primary care lens. On the first day of clinical these students watched the acclaimed 2012 documentary The Weight of the Nation and read the local County Community Assessment identifying obesity as the #1challenge facing the county in which they were working this fall.

In the course of the next few weeks they read about the sheer complexity, magnitude and economic cost of US obesity. Subjects included health care provider and community health stigma, environmental obesogens, endocrine disruptors, the built environment and genetic contributions to the current obesity epidemic as well as the latest evidence on community level and individual level behavioral change.

Meanwhile Clinical Associate Professor Tom Bush, MSN, RN, FNP-C, lead the Advanced Health Assessment nurse practitioner students through a case study reconfigured this summer to focus on the challenge of obesity at the individual level. Obesity Simulation suits obtained by Professor Carol Durham, EdD, RN, ANEF, Clinical Professor and Director of the Education-Innovation-Simulation-Learning Environment (EISLE), were used by both the graduate and undergraduate students to illustrate the challenges of performing a physical assessment on an obese individual, as well as providing students with an opportunity to “experience” the physical challenges faced by obese patients. Finally a staff member shared his personal transformation from obesity induced diabetes to a healthy weight and lifestyle, and his gratitude for the Carolina Advanced Health holistic approach to chronic disease management.

Whether students practice in a community primary care setting or an acute care setting, patients who are obese will be their reality. Understanding the population health evidence based practice and the primary care evidence based practice will be required of all nurses. Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have released the 9th annual F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012.

The report includes an analysis forecasting 2030 adult obesity rates and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease rates and health care costs. By contrast, the analysis also shows that states could prevent obesity-related diseases and dramatically reduce healthcare costs if they reduced average body mass index by just five percent by 2030.

For a link to the report, state-specific releases and other supporting information, please Click here and here.

The team responsible for this curricular innovation included both faculty and staff and were led by Beth Lamanna; Megan Goodwin, Tom Bush, Eric Hodges, Liska Lackey, Diane Berry, Carol Durham, Louise Fleming and Scott Burkett. They hope to repeat the simulation in future semesters.