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RI nursing ed in spotlight, plus: cutting the cord too soon?

October 4, 2012

The University of Rhode Island’s nursing school announced today that it has won $3.8M in federal grants – a huge number for a small school, and for nursing, at that. You can read more about those grants in our news coverage here and see URI’s press release here. Two of those grants will help develop new educational programs, both of which seem focused on responding to the changing landscape of health care in our state – the need for nurses who know how to provide more complex care for the elderly, for example.

Meanwhile, Rhode Island College’s nursing school is hopeful it will receive a chunk of cash from a bond measure on this November’s ballot to help, in part, renovate their nursing school building. I’ll be doing a story soon about that bond and what you need to know about it – and how it affects nursing education in the state, among other things – before you head into the voting booth.

Bottom line: we’re seeing some major attention and investment in nursing education right now in Rhode Island, and some big votes of confidence for the state’s nursing educators. I bet most would agree that more, better prepared nurses in general is a good thing for all of us. How you get there, of course, may still be a matter of contention.

Cutting the cord too soon?
The third grant URI’s nursing school announced today is the largest – nearly $2.5 M. It comes from the National Institutes of Health, and it’s to help fund a study that looks at the benefits of delaying clamping the umbilical cord in newborns. There’s already been work on this, showing the health benefits of delaying clamping in premature babies. But we don’t yet know as much about how delaying cutting the cord (for at least a few minutes) might help full term babies. The idea is that if you cut the cord too soon, you leave nearly 40% of the baby’s blood in the cord and inside the mother, blood that has, of course, valuable nutrients like iron. Nursing Professors Judith Mercer and Debra Erickson-Owens are leading the study. Mercer told me that her study will be the first to track the brain development of full term babies whose cords remained connected to the mother for several minutes. Her hypothesis is that the extra iron the baby receives will boost that development and help prevent behavioral problems.

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