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Advanced practice nurses gain new rights in Minnesota

Mary Chesney, Ph.D., R.N., director of the University of Minnesota Doctor of Nursing Practice Program displays her new license.

This month in Minnesota, advanced practice nurses gained new authority to practice. State requirements mandating a collaborative practice agreement between a physician and an advanced practice nurse are no longer required for nurses who meet the state’s new licensing and certification standards. The changes could benefit both metro-area and rural Minnesota communities by increasing access to the expertise of advanced practice nurses and opportunities to visit nurse-led primary care clinics.

The changes come as primary care access across Minnesota enters a critical stage, with a shortage of as many as 850 primary care physicians expected within the next ten years, according to the Minnesota Hospital Association.

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Research Snapshot: A better understanding of t-cell leukemia virus

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The particles of the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), a human retrovirus closely related to HIV, are known to be non-infectious. They don’t cause much damage alone. But when those particles invade other cells, the virus becomes highly infectious, and can cause leukemia. About 5 percent of people with HTLV-1 will develop adult t-cell leukemia.

University of Minnesota researchers recently captured 3-D images of HTLV-1 through advanced electron imaging, a technology that enabled them to study the virus particles in more detail than ever before. Their finding, recently published in The Journal of Virology, could provide insight into why some particles are more infectious than others.

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Legislative advisory committee pushes more support for incarcerated pregnant women

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It is estimated that four percent of incarcerated women are pregnant when they enter custody. Most of the corrections facilities in Minnesota are not equipped to house pregnant women, and given their high likelihood of medical and social risk factors, many incarcerated pregnant women may be at high risk for poor health outcomes.

After passing a bill to address this disparity last spring, an advisory committee created by the legislature recommends lawmakers consider providing additional support to incarcerated pregnant and postpartum women. The initial bill established regulations on the use of restraints and mandated pregnancy tests for inmates, among other policy changes. It was a major improvement in standard of care, but more can be done, said committee lead Rebecca Shlafer, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

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California measles outbreak reiterates importance of vaccines

Photo courtesy Flickr user Dave Haygarth

As of this morning, there are 59 confirmed cases of measles tied to the Disneyland outbreak according to NPR.

The issue does not reside in the park itself, or any other public place for that matter. Measles is one of the deadliest of all childhood rash/fever illnesses, and the disease spreads very easily. However, measles is extremely preventable with vaccination. The CDC even declared that measles was eradicated in the United States back in 2000, attributed to a “highly effective vaccination program and a strong public health system for detecting and responding to measles cases and outbreaks.”

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Commentary: School of Public Health associate professor reflects on the importance of physical education in our school systems

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The following commentary was presented in December 2014 to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education by Toben Nelson, Sc.D., associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota regarding graduation requirements for physical education.

“Developing minds and bodies need to be active in order to function at their best. I am here to urge you to reconsider the decision to reduce the number of physical education (PE) credits that students must take in order to graduate from a Minneapolis public school.

In my view, reducing physical education requirements is actually counter-productive to educational goals. Physical activity is critical for physical health. But it has a wide range of other benefits. Regular activity promotes mental health, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves mood. When schools provide structured time for physical activity through physical education, students respond with improved academic performance in the classroom and on standardized test scores.

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Small steps for big changes in 2015

As January comes to a close, many find the resolutions they made on New Year’s Day, are becoming harder to maintain. Before you throw out your resolution to be healthy in 2015, HealthTalk compiled a short list of easy steps you can take to achieve your goals.

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