May 24, 2004

Kimble honored for ER nurse program


By Michael Terrazas

When Laura Porter Kimble helped launch Emory’s emergency nurse practitioner program last year, she saw it as a natural way to bring the University’s diverse resources to bear on a problem facing the country’s increasingly understaffed emergency rooms.

“I’m very interested in vulnerable populations: those with low literacy, minority groups,” said Kimble, research associate professor in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “A lot of people who are vulnerable use emergency rooms for their health care needs, so they need different disciplines to assist them.”

The modest program’s early success (five students are enrolled this first year, and a sixth will be added in the fall), along with her scholarship in cardiology, earned Kimble the 2004 University Scholar/Teacher Award, which she received from President Jim Wagner during the main Commencement ceremony, May 10.

Kimble credits many of her colleagues in nursing and medicine with getting the collaborative emergency nurse practitioner program off the ground with a grant of some $564,000 from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. The program’s goal is to teach nursing students how they can provide a rounded health care experience to emergency-room patients—going beyond clinical care to education and preventive health care. Often the vulnerable populations to which Kimble referred get very little in the way of health education, she said, and nurse practitioners can fill a gap other emergency personnel are too busy to fill themselves.

“Nurses have to know a lot about research and science, but they also have to know how to care for people: how to make them laugh, how to teach them to care for a baby. When you’re around people who are sick 24 hours a day, you have to learn to do that,” Kimble said. “It’s a scholarship of caring. And this program can help provide a marriage of those two, between knowledge of science and caring for people.”

Kimble came to Emory in 1993 after a year on the nursing faculty at the University
of Rochester in New York, where she earned her Ph.D.

An adjunct assistant professor of cardiology in the School of Medicine, Kimble’s scholarship focuses on chronic angina and differences in symptom presentation between men and women. She has authored or coauthored more than 20 articles and book chapters, and last year Kimble earned a Research Article of the Year honor from the American Heart Association’s Council on Cardiovascular Nursing. In addition to coordinating the emergency nurse practitioner program, Kimble is associate director of the multidisciplinary Center for Symptoms, Symptom Interactions and Health Outcomes.

“The whole nursing school was appreciative of the [Scholar/Teacher] award,” Kimble said, sharing the credit with everyone who contributes to the program. “When you have such a great health sciences center, such a great school of medicine, it’s natural to put together programs like this.

“And,” she added, “I think nursing’s coming into its own at Emory, as well.”