What Nurses and Museums Can Learn from Each Other

Mar 31, 2023 | COVID-19 |


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This is the third episode of our new Vaccine Confidence series on At the Core of Care. Over the course of four episodes, we will dive into different facets of the COVID-19 vaccination effort, including education, advocacy, and community partnership.

You can listen to At the Core of Care on the Pennsylvania Action Coalition’s website, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Stay tuned for the rest of the series in the coming weeks by following us on Twitter and subscribing to our newsletter.

In this episode, we speak to Monica J. Harmon, MSN, MPH, RN and Jayatri Das, Ph.D. about the role that non-traditional health settings and partnerships have played in recent years to promote vaccine confidence. Harmon and Das have been involved in educational and public health outreach within the community since the beginning of the pandemic.

Dr. Jayatri Das is the Chief Bioscientist at the Franklin Institute, a science museum in Philadelphia that leads science education programming and research efforts. Das has helped oversee the Franklin Institute’s involvement with a nationwide initiative called Communities for Immunity to help educate and engage the public during the pandemic. She is also the Executive Producer of the Franklin Institute’s podcast So Curious! which launched in 2022.

Monica J. Harmon is a public health nurse who holds numerous leadership roles. At Drexel University she is the Executive Director at the College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) Community Wellness HUB and an assistant clinical professor. She is the Interim CNHP Services Director at the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services. Harmon also serves as the Co-Chair for the Pennsylvania Action Coalition’s Nurse Diversity Council and is the chapter president of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Area Black Nurses Association (SEPABNA).

Harmon reflects on the Community Wellness HUB’s early pandemic response efforts, and how the response has evolved over time from preventing infectious disease to securing access to vaccines. Without the level of government funding that was available in previous years, the Community Wellness HUB obtains vaccines through partnerships, including one with Sunray Drugs, a local, independent pharmacy group.

Das remembers getting involved early in the pandemic as a learning curve. Museums are place-based and without visitors coming to the museum, Das had to find innovative ways to engage the public. The Franklin Institute started virtual information sessions to leverage the museum’s existing role as a “familiar translator” of scientific information. These sessions provided basic information of the scientific process, like the role of experimentation, evidence, and scientific debate.

"We've seen how much that lack of engagement with how science works has influenced people's perception of the vaccines."
Jayatri Das, Ph.D.


Museums and other cultural institutions have always kept the public informed, Das explains. During the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services teamed up to launch Communities for Immunity (C4I) to support these institutions in relaying centralized public health information specific to their audiences. The Franklin Institute got involved in C4I and used the funding to offer communication services with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

The Franklin Institute is currently partnering with the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium on the Children’s Vaccine Education Project (CVEP), a micro-grant project that supplies school nurses across the country with a toolkit of vaccine education materials developed by the Franklin Institute. Harmon and Das are both involved in CVEP. They describe the success of the project, now in its second year.

The activities in the CVEP toolkit are intended for children ages 2-11 years old, but Harmon notes that CVEP engages parents and caregivers, too. “Children go home with the information they learn. And that's where some of our greatest public health challenges have been addressed,” she says.

"One of the things that I have loved, particularly working with school and community nurses who work with kids, is hearing from them how much kids can advocate for their own health."
Jayatri Das, Ph.D.


Das echoes the strength of the partnership between the museum and school nurses. Nurses are already “experts in the science. What we can give them is the strategies to be educators about science.” She says the Franklin Institute is able to provide skills “that we do every day on the museum floor that actually work really well when you're talking about health in any kind of a setting.”

"If organizations are thinking of doing this or not, they should be...it just jumpstarts so many other avenues for care, and for community engagement."
Monica Harmon, MSN, MPH, RN


Harmon and Das predict non-traditional healthcare partnerships will persist, especially as COVID vaccine conversations meld into larger conversations about prevention and health promotion. Das believes, “vaccination and preventative healthcare—and really just caring for each other—is in a way embedded into a lot of different things we do.” The more we expose people to this message, the more we can get people to think about vaccines organically.

Nurses and other health professionals across the country are using innovative methods to vaccinate their communities against COVID-19. Follow along as we explore other professionals’ stories as part of our Vaccine Confidence Series.


Listen to all the episodes in the Vaccine Confidence Series:


This project was funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant number NU50CK000580). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this resource center do not necessarily represent the policy of CDC or HHS, and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.



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About The Author

Annelise Slater is a Public Health Project Manager at the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium. 

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