February 24, 2006

Contact: Jenny Savage (505) 272-3651

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jimmy Bley suffers from emphysema but luckily the entire UNM College of Nursing is monitoring his health. Bley and a host of other characters are all part of a web-based fictitious community called "The Neighborhood" designed to teach UNM nursing students skills necessary to understand and identify patient needs across all patient care settings.

In "The Neighborhood," students learn by combining the patient experience with knowledge gained through textbooks and journal articles, providing a rich and memorable learning experience. When students enter Jimmy Bley's virtual world they learn about his medical history, personal relationships, disposition and hobbies in addition to his medical management regimen. In this way, students are able to move away from simply understanding a disease in textbook parameters into understanding how a disease is affecting an individual life.

"Since most patients do not live in the hospital, it's important for nursing students to gain an understanding of the impact medical conditions have on the daily lives of individuals," said Jean Giddens, PhD, associate professor at the UNM College of Nursing who designed the program and has been working to integrate the program into courses at the College of Nursing. The program itself is not a course but supports all courses in the College of Nursing undergraduate curriculum. Neighborhood stories unfold on a weekly basis extending over three academic semesters.

"Everything students need to know about nursing can be found in our neighborhoods," said Giddens.