New Tools of the Trade

Photo of Ashley Darcy-Mahoney
04/18/2019 14:08

A growing body of literature supports the connection between poverty and related social determinants of health in shaping health outcomes, especially in early brain and child development.

GW Nursing’s Ashley Darcy-Mahoney, in partnership with the National League for Nursing (NLN), developed an online toolkit aimed at helping nursing schools better educate students on how to identify and address factors not previously considered when providing pediatric care.

“Early detection and management of socioeconomic barriers is an important and emerging component of pediatric scope of practice,” said Dr. Darcy-Mahoney, an associate professor at GW Nursing and director of infant research at GW’s Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute. Expanding pediatric care providers’ scope of practice to include identifying and addressing the social determinants of health will require additions to existing nursing curriculum to cover these new topics.

In the new toolkit, Pediatric Adversity and Early Brain Development, Dr. Darcy-Mahoney offers a concise way for faculty in schools of nursing to explore the literature about pediatric adversity and consider ways to integrate the social determinants of health into existing curricula.

By partnering with NLN, Dr. Darcy-Mahoney hopes to leverage the organization’s considerable reach as a leader in nursing education in disseminating the toolkit, she said.

“The rollout of the NLN’s latest Advancing Care Excellence for Pediatrics program was an excellent place for this toolkit to be housed,” she said, describing the program that identified education about social determinants of health as a critical gap in nursing curricula.

This toolkit is aimed at “meeting the growing demand for quality care of children at greatest risk, living in circumstances beset by poverty, neglect and abuse,” Dr. Darcy-Mahoney said. The toolkit is divided into four modules that can be incorporated into a nursing curriculum to “educate future pediatric clinicians in understanding the drivers of inequity and equipping them with the knowledge, skills and courage to build more equitable health systems and organizations.”

The toolkit is free and available for download at