Clinical Partners Find Alternative Ways to Resume Hands-On Training
USF College of Nursing students started trickling back into hospitals to resume clinical rotations late this summer thanks to the steadfast efforts by our dedicated clinical partners.
And while the continuing pandemic has restricted access to certain clinical experiences, several groups of nursing students were able to get hands-on training in traditional and alternative clinical opportunities at Tampa General Hospital and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
College of Nursing adjunct clinical instructor Casey Crowley, who works in the Neuro ICU at Tampa General Hospital, said it was important to find clinical opportunities for nursing students.
“At the end of the day, this is the next generation of nurses. We need to provide them with the best experiences we can, given the situations we are in,” Crowley said.
During the month of July, Crowley instructed 10 nursing students once a week. The group focused on learning from the patient care technicians about turning, positioning, and mobilizing patients, as well as vital signs.
Crowley said the students shadowed nurses, focusing on head to toe body assessments and giving and receiving reports. Post conference meetings were held online through Microsoft Teams.
And while these students may not have had a traditional learning experience, the modified clinical opportunity made them more prepared for real-life experiences, she said.
“This pandemic has definitely flipped our world upside down. There is fear and uncertainty, but everyone is looking to health care providers for reassurance that we will all be okay,” she said.
“Providing these students with clinical opportunities during the pandemic not only shows USF’s dedication to academic excellence, but it is showing our students that this is what you are training for. We need nurses with the knowledge and skill to be able to navigate through these difficult times, whatever they may be.”
Jacki Ketchman, another College of Nursing adjunct clinical instructor based at Tampa General Hospital, said the hospital has been extremely welcoming to the nursing students.
Ketchman said she instructed two groups of nursing students — a first semester group and a final semester group. All were excited to get hands-on training.
“Students still need training, even though we have a pandemic. With this COVID-19 crisis, we need more highly trained nurses ready to work, and they need to have clinicals to be ready,” Ketchman said.
Ketchman said first semester students were getting familiar with the hospital setting, seeing how all the team members work together in a hospital, practicing their physical assessments on real patients, taking vital signs, and designing plans of care for the patients.
Final semester students were in their preceptorships, putting together everything they’ve learned in all of their classes and performing a majority of patient care along with the nurse.
The 20 College of Nursing students based in the St. Petersburg campus have the opportunity to get experience at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital through a unique alternative clinical exchange.
Students are assisting in the emergency center with transport of COVID testing specimens in full personal protective equipment and are in the peri-operative family waiting room, where they are communicating news of the pediatric patient in surgery to family members. They are also helping to answer phone calls in the waiting room and cleaning in between caregivers.
“The nursing students have been a tremendous help to our organization by helping to fill these roles,” said Kim Kuperman, the RN Professional Practice Director at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
Kuperman said the positions popped up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hospital initially filled these new roles with displaced staff, but once the staff members went back to their full-time positions, officials needed to find extra help.
“This pandemic has made us think and do things differently throughout the organization,” she said. “We have had to think outside the box and integrate more technology and virtual opportunities into our educational offerings.”
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing