Exploring National Nursing Readiness for a Radiological or Nuclear Incident: A Cross-Sectional Study

Angela Bowen, Tener Goodwin Veenema, Sarah Schneider-Firestone, Carol Iddins, Danielle Boyce, Jason Davis, Clifton P. Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: As the largest component of the United States health care workforce, nurses will play a critical role in radiological or nuclear disaster medical response. Despite this, the United States’ schools of nursing are not currently providing radiation content (75% teach zero or <1 hour), and much of the current nursing workforce may not have received adequate response education and training. Nurses working in emergency departments and those who work at hospitals within the Radiation Injury Treatment Network will be relied on heavily, but little is known about whether these nurses possess the knowledge and skills needed to care for and protect patients after a radiation emergency. Current federal and state radiological/nuclear preparedness plans may be built on false assumptions of readiness, which would have serious implications for national preparedness and the National Health Security Strategy. The purpose of this study was to assess nurses' knowledge and skill in emergency radiological or nuclear response and determine their willingness to use mobile technology for education and training in response to a large-scale radiation event. Methods: Descriptive cross-sectional survey of registered nurse members of the Emergency Nurses Association and/or those employed at Radiation Injury Treatment Network centers. Results: Knowledge scores were low for all respondents. Prior attendance at a Radiation Emergency Medical Management course, use of online resources, and having a preparedness plan were associated with higher scores. Experience with a radiation emergency was associated with the highest score. Nurses are willing to use mobile technology during a radiological or nuclear disaster response. Discussion: Key nurses may not possess adequate knowledge or clinical competence to participate in radiation response activities. The results of this assessment identified educational gaps and areas to strengthen nursing education and clinical skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-610
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Emergency Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Disaster
  • Education
  • Mobile technology
  • Nuclear
  • Nurses
  • Radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency


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