A Strategy to Enhance Student Experiences in Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response: Medical Reserve Corps Nursing Student Summer Externship

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Development of the public health nursing workforce is crucial to advancing our nation's health. Many organizations, including the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Department of Health and Human Services, have identified the need for strengthening academia's connection to public health and tailoring experiences to enhance workforce competency. The Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps (OKMRC) Nursing Student Summer Externship was developed as a strategy to provide nursing students with strengthened knowledge and skills in disaster response through a structured summer volunteer experience with nurse educators within the OKMRC. The Medical Reserve Corps is a national organization with more than 200 000 volunteers dedicated to strengthening public health, improving emergency response capabilities, and building community resiliency. In the summer of 2015, the OKMRC offered a 10-week public health emergency preparedness and response externship pilot program to 8 nursing students. In the summer of 2016, the program expanded to include 3 Oklahoma baccalaureate nursing programs. Students completed trainings and participated in activities designed to provide a broad base of knowledge, an awareness of the local disaster plans, and leadership skills to assist their communities with preparedness and disaster response.

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