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Disaster Preparedness: Considerations for Our Older Patient Population

Over the past couple of years, numerous natural disasters occurred, superimposed on a global pandemic. These events have had a disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable populations including our older patients who often have multiple health related concerns, limited income, lack transportation, or ready access to resources increasing their health disparity. Despite the best emergency planning efforts, every disaster presents its own unique set of challenges and opportunities to learn and improve the future response to similar situations. Depending on the significance of damage to the area’s infrastructure, resources can be scarce, and the rescue response delayed. To preserve the health and safety of the geriatric population and community during times of crisis or disaster, multiple federal, state, and local laws have been enacted. Yet, challenges still remain.

Healthcare delivery has undergone significant change as a result of these complex and unprecedented experiences. The National Academies of Medicine Future of Nursing 2020-2030 has recognized the increasing need to ensure that education of our nursing workforce must include a focus on addressing the social determinants of health and methods to improve health equity. The report also has identified the need to prepare nurses to be able to respond to disasters and public health emergencies. Studies have demonstrated that nurses worldwide do not feel adequately prepared for disasters (Fil et. al., 2021). Nurse practitioners (NP) provide care to a multitude of individuals across multiple care settings and play a vital role during times of disaster and emergencies.

It is imperative that the NP curriculum integrates emergency preparedness competencies to ensure that NP graduates are poised to address the challenges that present during times of crisis to reduce disparities in health for older adults.

Preparing our graduates to be healthcare leaders and providers for an unknown future by doing things the way we always have is no longer an option. This presentation will offer suggested content, assignments, and resources to educate our future nurse practitioner workforce to care for the geriatric population utilizing the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner faculties emergency preparedness competencies as published in 2007, the 2021 essentials, and NTF criteria.


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