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Nursing students get a lesson in life and safe sleep

Friday, April 25, 2014
Nursing students get a lesson in life and safe sleep
By Amy Johnson

The Roman philosopher, Seneca, theorized thousands of years ago that the best way to understand a concept is to teach it to someone else. “While we teach, we learn,” he said.

This is also the philosophy of Kimberly Holka, MSN, MSA, RN, APHN-BC, CNE, full-time adjunct instructor, who recently partnered with the Oakland County Health Division to put that philosophy into practice.

“Many parents and caregivers do not realize everyday items, such as bumper pads, stuffed animals, or sleeping with their newborns/infants can be dangerous,” Holka said. “The Safe Sleep train-the-trainer program allows our nursing students to educate the public and local day cares.”

In a dual effort to better educate students and help save the lives of infants, Jane Kessler, RN, from the Oakland County Health Division spoke to first-semester School of Nursing students in Holka’s NRS 216 Health Promotion I class about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, renamed Accidental Death by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Accidental Death occurs without signs of distress and most often in infants between two and four months old. Statistically, there are about 2,000 deaths per year in the United States, cites the Center for Disease Control. In 2012, there were over 150 Accidental Deaths in Michigan; that’s more than two babies per week, making it the third leading cause of infant death.

“Prior to 1995, parents and caregivers were instructed to position babies on their stomachs to sleep. But due to high mortality rates in infants related to suffocation and asphyxiation, the AAP rolled out the Back to Sleep campaign which continued until it became Safe Sleep in the 2000s,” said Kessler. “Since the inception of the improved method for putting babies to bed, the number of deaths has decreased by 50 percent.”

After attending the lecture, the students in Holka’s class then take their certificate for participation, a Pack ‘N Play donated by the Oakland County Health Division and Oakland County Health Department Safe Sleep presentation with DVD to Detroit area day care centers to relay the information.

The students are able to practice how to spread the word effectively and efficiently while potentially saving the lives of thousands of babies entrusted to these caregivers.

Nursing student Neveen Jolagh took Holka’s course and found the experience of learning and teaching to be valuable. “After hearing from Jane Kessler, I knew how wrong many people were about caring for an infant, starting with my own family,” said Jolagh. “It was important for me to educate my family about how to take care of infants since most of my siblings just started having families.”

Jolagh and her group presented to the day care staff at Lifetime Fitness, explaining the harm that can come from improper sleep patterns for infants. She added, “This experience was so important because we can save lives by educating parents and caregivers by following very simple rules.”