I am writing in response to Melanie Pelletier’s letter to the editor regarding my article on “Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Beginning of the 21st Century.” Ms. Pelletier is to be congratulated not only for the thoughtfulness she has given this topic, and for putting her thoughts in a letter to the editor, but also for returning to school to complete her BSN.
Ms Pelletier is quite right. Nurses need to be knowledgeable and up-to-date about emerging and infectious diseases in order to provide optimal care (including prevention and containment) to patients and their families in all types of healthcare settings, schools, and the home. Content in nursing education programs regarding infectious diseases, including those that are classified under the umbrella of emerging, is minimal. As one of the groups that has recognized this, the American Academy of Nursing established a new expert panel, “Emerging and Infectious Diseases,” co-chaired by me and Jerry D. Durham. This panel brings together many of the nursing experts in this area to provide expert consultation and to tackle such issues as the identification of needed content in nursing education programs. We cannot remain complacent.
Felissa R. Lashley, RN, PhD, ACRN, FAAN, FACMG
Dean and Professor
Rutgers College of Nursing