College of Nursing Partners with TruMont for Virtual Clinical Curriculum
With the United States already facing a nursing shortage, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a greater strain on the nation’s health care system. As student nurses are prohibited from continuing their clinical rotations due to the virus, the need for an innovative and comprehensive way to advance students into the workforce also emerged.
The USF College of Nursing has finalized a collaborative partnership with TruMont and created a customized program that will allow senior nursing students to graduate on time.
TruMont offers an evidence-based health care curriculum with a blended learning approach that is consistent with the work of the National Academy of Medicine (formally the Institute of Medicine), the Joint Commission, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The College of Nursing sought to create the program after a report from TruMont identified that the suspension of clinical rotations could further the nursing shortage. The report points out that the stoppage of in-person education could affect up to 10,000 graduating nurses in Florida, leaving them insufficiently prepared for practice.
Curated by Rayna Letourneau, PhD, RN, assistant professor and one of the lead course coordinators for the College of Nursing’s preceptorship course, the Senior RN Student Practicum 2020 program brings the clinical setting to students’ computers. Dr. Letourneau reviewed TruMont’s online curriculum and chose which aspects most closely aligned with the College of Nursing’s program outcomes, as well as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Essentials of Baccalaureate Education of Professional Nursing Practice and the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) competencies.
“There was already a critical need to recruit and retain nurses, secondary to a projected nursing shortage,” Dr. Letourneau said. “Nurse leaders can alleviate some of the stressors on the health care industry by addressing the urgent need for nurses, ensuring that nursing students graduate on time, and facilitating a successful transition from academia to the nursing workforce.”
Specifically, the program focuses on knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enhance quality and safety practices. These practices facilitate the transition of newly licensed nurses from academia to clinical care.
Each module begins with an introduction, presents key concepts, and reviews their application in the practice setting. Concept topics are followed by short quizzes and scenarios structured to build confidence through critical thinking activities. Research-based case studies lead the students through situations they could encounter in a hospital setting. After each module, the students conference with the rest of their cohort to demonstrate how they can apply new and/or reinforced knowledge to their past and future clinical experience. Student engagement is encouraged through faculty feedback using interactive announcements, coaching emails, virtual office hours, and an interactive grading system.
Alexis Ambrosio, a senior nursing student at the College of Nursing, said she was initially unsure of the value of an online clinical program. After completing the modules, she said she felt more confident in her skills.
Along with the safety of the students and the preservation of personal protection equipment, there are additional advantages of the online curriculum. Ambrosio says that the course covers aspects of care, such as evidence-based practice, that are critical for new nurses to understand.
“I think USF’s College of Nursing should require this program for all senior nursing students prior to graduation,” Ambrosio said. “This is a very effective program, and I felt that it allowed me to feel more comfortable.”
The cost of student nurses missing their final clinical rotations is significant, but the virtual curriculum allows students to repeat activities until they have mastered the objectives.
Ambrosio said she was disappointed when her clinical rotation was suspended, due to restrictions enacted by local health care facilities. She still works as a nurse technician at Tampa General Hospital, unable to care directly for COVID-19 patients, but is applying critical thinking skills in a clinical setting.
She knows she will have to make up for lost time once she is able to deliver direct care again as a nurse. With her Advanced Disaster Life Support certification through USF, she feels prepared to return to the bedside as soon as possible. She must first graduate and pass her boards, and the Senior RN Student Practicum 2020 program will keep her on track to do so.
“It’s hard to see someone in need and not be allowed to help the way we know best,” she said. “I’m eager to get out there and jump in, effective immediately.”