RU DNP candidate takes nursing to the fields and farms

Johnson Family

RU DNP candidate Amy Johnson aspires to make family farming safer for her husband, W.P., Jr., and 15-month-old Katie as well as family farmers and agricultural workers across Virginia.

Amy Johnson's ambitious Doctor of Nursing Practice capstone project springs directly from her roots.

In an effort to understand and improve the health of the agricultural worker, or farmer, Johnson has plunged into a study of the second most dangerous occupation in the world and the world's largest industry and employer that she hopes will yield both a healthier farmer and a health care system that addresses its unique, and often dangerous, challenges.

Johnson, B.S.N. '09, is a product of the agricultural way of life.  She was raised on a family farm in Highland County and now lives on her husband's family farm in Bedford County with her 15-month-old daughter.

In 2002, Johnson handled a call as an EMT in which a former classmate was killed in a farm accident. The victim had gotten trapped between pieces of machinery and laid unattended for hours before anybody found him and called 911. The length of time he had been trapped was why he died and Johnson noted that farmers often work in locations with poor cell phone reception and alone.

From the farmhouse and the road, she is completing her DNP online and hopes to join the first cohort of Bachelor of Science of Nursing (BSN) to DNP graduates on August 19.

From the family farm near Chamblissburg Va., RU Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) candidate Amy Johnson is researching agricultural accidents.

From the family farm near Chamblissburg, Va., RU Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) candidate Amy Johnson is researching agricultural accidents as part of her capstone project.

Far from an academic endeavor, her project has taken her across the state and into North Carolina and West Virginia as she works with regional Emergency Management Service (EMS) organizations, Virginia Farm Bureau chapters and local agricultural groups to raise awareness of and prevent agricultural injuries.  A key part of her efforts is development of a statewide database of injuries as a first step for first responders and the ag community to understand and address the hazardous nature of the occupation that puts food on tables, she said.

"The data can flow in now from local EMS and fire agencies and we hope to better understand how agricultural work and injuries are unique and how best to serve them in health care," said Johnson, who has partnered with the state's leading agricultural advocacy organization, the Virginia Farm Bureau, to host the website site devoted to collecting of agricultural accident information.

"Amy has taken nursing to the patient, which is exactly what the program is all about," said School of Nursing Director Tony Ramsey.

The RU BSN-to-DNP program prepares individuals who already hold bachelor’s degrees in nursing as advanced practice nurses. RU's program was among the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia to be offered in an online distance-learning format and allows students like Johnson to complete their clinical rotations in their home regions.  For Johnson, it means staying close to her roots among Virginia's farmers and farm communities.

"The change I want to see is that those who live to farm - like I do - have access to health care and safety information that will prevent devastating injuries from keeping them from their passion and profession," she said.

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Jul 29, 2013
Don Bowman
(540) 831-7523