Newswise — PHILADELPHIA (June 23, 2022) – Sleep health is increasingly recognized as important to overall health, and sleep disturbances and disorders are clinical problems that require diagnosis and management. But when patients present with symptoms and concerns about their sleep disturbances, they often do so to healthcare providers who are not sleep specialists.

Primary care nurse practitioners (NPs) make up an increasingly large percentage of healthcare providers in the U.S., meeting patients’ full ranges of health needs. However, their education in recognizing, evaluating, and addressing sleep disturbances and disorders is not a standardized part of NP preparation.

To address this need, a first-of-its-kind study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) investigated the use of a novel graduate-level sleep education curriculum for NPs. Asynchronous, case-based sleep education learning modules were combined with an online discussion board for peer-to-peer learning with faculty oversight. This engaged scholarship initiative brought together experts in graduate nursing and medical education, sleep medicine, curriculum design, and nurse practitioners to meet an unmet need of primary care NP curricula.

“The program provided an ideal option for introducing sleep medicine education without significant drain on faculty or curricular resources,” says Amy M. Sawyer, PhD, RN, Associate Professor of Sleep & Health Behavior at Penn Nursing and lead investigator of the study. “The modules were designed based on adult learning theory, applicable to graduate-level students who are self-directed, experienced, and motivated to learn.”

A pre- and post-evaluation study of the learning module program showed that it positively impacted a range of learning outcomes. The systematic evaluation of the program was recently presented at the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine/ American Thoracic Society Conference. The article, “Case-based, Asynchronous Sleep Education Outcomes Among Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Students” has been published online by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.  Co-authors of the article include Bruno Saconi, MS, RN; Susan M. Renz, PhD, DNP, RN; Alexa J. Watach, PhD, RN; and Miranda V. McPhillips, PhD, RN, all of Penn Nursing; Melanie Lyons, PhD, MSN, ACNP, of the Ohio State University; Rebecca Lang-Gallagher and Ilene M. Rosen, MD, MSCE (senior investigator), both of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. The research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants R25HL120874, T32HL007953 and K23NR018487.


About the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is one of the world’s leading schools of nursing. For the seventh year in a row, it is ranked the #1 nursing school in the world by QS University. In a first for any undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in the country, our BSN program is ranked # 1 in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings. Penn Nursing is also consistently ranked highly in the U.S. News & World Report annual list of best graduate schools and is ranked as one of the top schools of nursing in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Penn Nursing prepares nurse scientists and nurse leaders to meet the health needs of a global society through innovation in research, education, and practice. Follow Penn Nursing on: FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, & Instagram.  

Journal Link: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine