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International Collaboration: ENHP Department of Nursing and Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO)


The Department of Nursing signed an agreement with the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) in October, 2010, beginning a formal association in which the faculty will incorporate the RNAO's best practice guidelines into the nursing curriculum. The goal is to become an Academic Best Practice Spotlight Organization (ABPSO®) of the RNAO, the first in the United States. (P. 2, winter 2011, International Affairs and Best Practice newsletter).

Katharine Lewis began visiting the RNAO with students in 2006 as an international experience for students to learn about and then compare and contrast public health and health care systems in Canada with the United States. During the 2010 visit, the Executive Director of the RNAO invited the University of Hartford to sign on as an ABPSO® candidate.

As part of the candidacy, the ENHP nursing faculty invited Heather McConnell, associate director of the international affairs and best practice guidelines programs for the RNAO, to conduct workshops for nursing faculty and students. The focus of the workshop for faculty was incorporating best practice guidelines into the nursing curriculum and evaluating outcomes. Faculty are developing an assessment tool to evaluate students' understanding and knowledge of the guidelines.  Nurses in the undergraduate program are already implementing two of the guidelines concerning smoking cessation and the prevention of childhood obesity as part of their Project Horizon service-learning experience. 

The workshop for current students and alumni was aimed at creating best practice “Champions” among these nurses, providing concrete tools for implementing guidelines in their respective work sites. The guidelines are developed using the best available research evidence (best practice) and have been utilized in health care facilities across Canada. 

Responses were extremely positive from both faculty and students. “This is an exciting time for the Department of Nursing, and a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with the RNAO, as we incorporate best practices into our curriculum” noted one faculty member. Students found the workshop to be “...extremely relevant” to their practice and one student wrote “Thank you! I am so glad I attended!”


Nursing faculty Katharine Lewis (center) Confers with Heather McConnell

Best Practice Guidelines

Attentive Workshop Participants

Nurse Participants

Nursing Faculty with Heather McConnell (back row, center)