Associate professor of nursing Nancy Menzel believes that a healthy community is a sustainable community.
"Without healthy people, a city is not sustainable," says Menzel. "A city's most valuable resource is its people. Government and business leaders must view public health as an investment in the future."
For this reason, Menzel studies a variety of health issues, seeking to ascertain if the community and state are sustainable environments for their citizens. She has explored such subjects as health care services and access, work-related injuries, and the relationship between low-back pain and disability.
Recently, Menzel has focused on workplace health and safety for nurses. Her research has proved that instructing students on the use of safe lifting equipment positively affects the likelihood that care facilities will adopt safe lifting programs, reducing both workplace injuries and employee turnover.
"Many injured nurses leave the field forever," says Menzel. "It's not an effective or sustainable practice to invest funding and time to produce more nurses only to have them leave the field due to an injury through unsafe manual handling of patients. It's obviously harmful to the nurses themselves, and it's detrimental to the profession."
Menzel, who also serves as the current president of the Nevada Public Health Association, not only conducts research on the subject of safe handling of patients, but also serves as an advocate for nurses.
In 2006, she promoted legislation to require Nevada hospitals to provide safe patient handling equipment, and she developed a research-based curriculum on safe patient handling principles. Her curriculum project won the Award of Excellence in Public Health Training from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.