On April 24, 2010, the Lupus Foundation of Florida and UCF College of Nursing will co-host the 25th Annual Lupus Awareness Seminar at the Fairwinds Alumni Center on UCF’s main campus.

The seminar is open to the public and its unique format targets health care professionals as well as lupus patients. Registered nurses and nurse practitioners will have the opportunity to earn three free continuing education units.

In addition, the inaugural Martha Manuel Emerson Investigator Award will be presented by the Lupus Foundation to a UCF College of Nursing graduate student or faculty member to support lupus-related research.

The Lupus Foundation of Florida and the UCF College of Nursing recently formed a partnership that aims to advance research, education and practice for nursing faculty and students in regards to lupus and other autoimmune disorders. Dr. Jean Leuner, dean of the College of Nursing, and Assistant Professor Dr. Patricia Weinstein, who is also a member of the Lupus Foundation of America’s National Education Committee and education chairman for Lupus Foundation of Florida, collaborated to develop this alliance that emphasizes the importance of nursing and its role in the care of lupus patients as well as the promotion of lupus-related research by nurses. This initiative is the first of its kind in the nation between a lupus foundation and a school of nursing.

“Much work remains in educating health care professionals about the treatment and care of lupus patients. Nurses are often the first point of contact for health care information for lupus patients and therefore must be prepared to educate patients and their families, as well as provide nursing care,” explains Dr. Weinstein.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States with more than 16,000 new cases diagnosed annually. Lupus can damage any part of the body and was once believed to be a fatal disease. Though no cure has been found, the progress made in the treatment and diagnosis of lupus during the last decade has been considerable with a significant improvement in survival rates and quality of life.

The Lupus Foundation of Florida serves 47 counties and 90,000 lupus patients across the state. It also is an affiliate of the Lupus Research Institute, the world’s leading private supporter of innovative research in lupus.

Contributing writer: Kristin Soto, UCF College of Nursing communications intern