The George Washington University (GW) has set plans in motion to revamp the School of Nursing’s flagship building on the Virginia Science and Technology campus. Renovations are set to begin soon and conclude in summer 2018, adding a communal space for online and graduate students, and a new patient simulation lab.
The new common space will be designed as a place for nursing students to gather, giving them a sense of community on the isolated campus. As a hub for student resources, the new space is expected to promote student engagement and improve campus culture.
Pamela Jeffries, dean of the GW School of Nursing, tells GWHatchet.com, “This investment in our students will hopefully lead to continuous improvement of retention, completion, employment and licensure outcomes.”
GW offers 16 online nursing degree programs. The 303 online nursing students in the nurse practitioner program take their courses off campus but are required to come to campus for academic testing three times throughout the program. The lab expansion will offer new and improved resources for these students.
Renovations to complete the lab expansion will include a new space to simulate patient care including private exam rooms, acute care rooms, and more advanced technology. Distance learning students shouldn’t feel that they are at a disadvantage, and GW Nursing hopes to make these students feel more included as a result of the renovation project.
To learn more about GW Nursing’s renovation plans to create communal student spaces and a simulation lab, visit here.
To help combat the stress of nursing school, the Student Nurses’ Association (SNA) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) created a Transitions Mentorship Program which is in its third semester. The student-run organization immerses GVSU nursing students into the medical world through presentations, group meetings, and hands-on activities.
Jamie Platt, president of the GVSU SNA chapter, tells Lanthorn.com, “The idea behind the program is to empower our new student nurses. SNA believes that creating a strong environment through positive peer-student relationships during the beginning of nursing school will allow new students to feel confident during a vulnerable time in the nursing program.”
The Transitions program pairs lower-level nursing students with upper-level students so they can meet and discuss topics in their major and receive tips for studying for nursing exams. It offers students someone to lean on while studying in an intensive program.
GVSU’s student nurse association decided to incorporate the mentorship program based on student feedback. Many older nursing students reported the struggles they went through and wished they had had someone to help them through the program. GVSU’s nursing program is comprised of five semesters, so students in their first or second semester are paired with a student in their third, fourth, or fifth semester.
Students in the mentorship program are required to meet five times per semester and are encouraged to meet biweekly. After meeting, the mentors report back on their conversations, many of which have revolved around clinical work which makes up half of the students’ time so that they can practice skills they learn in the classroom.
The program has received positive feedback thus far, making a positive impact on students. Many students feel the mentorship program helps them feel more confident and less apprehensive about future semesters. To learn more about GVSU’s student nurse mentorship program, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Bianca de Leon, a recent graduate of Penn State University’s nursing program and a commissioned officer in the US Navy Nurse Corps. De Leon emigrated from the Philippines at 5 years old with her father who wanted his family to start a new life in the United States. Now seventeen years later, de Leon has overcome many hardships to pursue her dream career in nursing.
“Despite my upbringing, I flourished because my teachers believed in me, my family pushed me, and this country gave an immigrant family a chance to prove themselves.”
De Leon’s family suffered many hardships when she was younger. She was 13 when her mother and younger brother were finally approved to join her father and the rest of their family in the US. Then she began her first job at 15 years old while also taking Advanced Placement classes and participating in sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities. Exhausted by all that she took on, de Leon thought she would always feel that way.
After mentoring an elementary school student with behavioral issues and working in a retirement home where she observed the nursing staff taking care of the residents, de Leon realized that she wanted to pursue a career where she could interact with people and help make changes to improve their lives.
Inspired by her older brother, de Leon decided to apply for the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). She tells News.PSU.edu, “I became interested because they had nursing scholarships. At the time I wasn’t thinking that I wanted to pursue a military career. I knew that I needed to go to nursing school and this was a way that I would be able to do it.”
De Leon received a Naval ROTC scholarship to Penn State and was accepted into their four-year bachelor’s degree program in nursing. She graduated in Spring 2017 as a commissioned officer in the US Navy Nurse Corps and in July she passed the exam to become a licensed registered nurse. Shortly after, she set out for her first duty station at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in northern Virginia.
De Leon credits her achievements to the supportive environment she grew up in. She tells News.PSU.edu, “Despite my upbringing, I flourished because my teachers believed in me, my family pushed me, and this country gave an immigrant family a chance to prove themselves.”
To learn more about de Leon and her career in military nursing, visit here.
Simulation is being used more and more in nursing schools as well as in other types of educational situations for experienced nurses.
Christine Park, MD, president of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, a professor of anesthesiology and medical education and co-director of the Graham Clinical Performance Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, took time to answer questions about simulation and how it’s being utilized in the nursing field.
“Simulation is a technique that creates a situation or environment to allow people to experience a representation of a real event for the purpose of practice, learning, evaluations, testing, or to gain understanding of systems or human actions,” Park explains. “In health care, we use an exciting array of methodologies, including simulated task trainers, mannequins, full-scale environments, virtual and augmented reality, and even simulated patients. That means we can simulate anything from an ‘arm’ for a nursing student to practice starting an intravenous line, to difficult conversations, to training interprofessional teams in hospitals, to testing system-wide patient safety solutions before deployment.”
So why should the nursing field use simulation as opposed to having nurses immediately working on actual patients?
“I find it helpful to think about how other high-risk industries use simulation. In commercial aviation, simulation is so integral to training that for certain aircraft, the pilot trains exclusively in simulation. When they fly the real aircraft for the first time, it’s with passengers,” says Park. “That might seem scary at first, but in health care, I believe we should strive for a similar goal—that we train extensively in simulation, to the point that by the time we interact with real patients, we are truly ready.”
This is exactly why simulation can help. For example, Park says that when there are new learners/new nursing students, it enables them to hone their skills before caring for real patients. That’s not to say that the way of working with actual patients initially is wrong, but it can provide the students with a sense of calm when they are trying procedures for the first time. It can help longtime nurses as well. “When it comes to more advanced learners and practicing providers, we can provide a safe environment where not only is it allowed to be imperfect, but we encourage the discovery of solutions through reflection on threats to safety in individual performance and systems vulnerabilities. This is the kind of process needed for robust lifelong learning,” says Park.
Currently, Park states, simulation is being used widespread in U.S. nursing schools and is gaining popularity in hospitals as well. “An example of impactful simulation in a hospital setting is the use of in-situ simulation, using the actual operating room or ICU, to practice ‘code blues,’ or disaster simulations in the Emergency Department,” she explains. “In large part, simulation for the practicing provider nurse is driven by their hospital, clinic, or whatever their practice environment is. As far as mandatory simulation for continuing education, we are beginning to see this in isolated pockets within health care, among certain medical specialties.”
Park believes that simulation use in nursing in incredibly important throughout each nurse’s career. “At first, it’s about learning the basic nursing skills—both technical and communication skills. It’s about optimizing performance in the work environment, and that includes interprofessional teamwork. But it doesn’t stop there,” states Park. “Throughout the 30 or more years in a nurse’s career, there are constantly new skills to be learned and skills to be refreshed and adjusted. Using simulation and analyzing our performance in simulated environments, we can discover how individuals, technology, and systems contribute to errors. Using data from both simulated performance and real outcomes data, we can discover our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats when it comes to patient safety. Ultimately, we can disseminate best practice.”
The George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing has launched a new student support system that will help students develop strategies to physically and emotionally care for themselves while learning to care for others. Faculty in the GW nursing school saw a need for additional resources to help students balance the stress of academics, personal life, and the stress of clinical experiences, prompting the creation of the new wellness program.
The Professional Well-Being Initiative launched this fall with a series of nine seminars on mental health and stress management to take place over the course of the academic year. Future nurses in the program will learn how to cope with the emotional and physical strains of the profession. The program is designed to help students develop the knowledge and skills needed to proactively cope with stress and adversity.
Pamela Jeffries, Dean of the GW School of Nursing, tells The GW Hatchet, “Nursing students complete a rigorous curriculum that may be difficult for some students to cope with. Through the initiative, students learn to manage the many tasks and deadlines of our program, then carry that knowledge and awareness with them beyond their students and into professional practice.”
Several seminars have already taken place this semester on topics including mindfulness and self care, balancing multiple tasks, and grit and resilience. Students who complete at least six of the nine sessions offered will receive a notation of their transcript verifying that they have completed the program.
To learn more about GW Nursing’s new student wellness program, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Brayan Aguirre, a DACA recipient who is pursuing a nursing degree at Harper College amidst uncertainty of what the future holds for those protected by the program. Forced to work harder than most other 20-year-old college students, Aguirre spends his free time helping to support his family through a job at a nearby rehabilitation facility. He is committed to achieving his goals despite the daily uncertainty that comes with being an immigrant who wasn’t born in the US.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was enacted five years ago under the Obama administration. It’s an immigration policy allowing children brought to the United States illegally by their parents to get temporary reprieve from deportation and receive permission to work, study, and obtain a driver’s license. Recipients must have arrived in the US before the age of 16, have a clean criminal record, and be enrolled in high school, college, or the military.
Aguirre’s family moved to Arlington Heights, IL from Durango, Mexico when he was just eight years old and he has never been back to visit. After living in daily fear of the unknown, many of Aguirre’s fears subsided when DACA was created. Being approved for the program meant he could get a job that didn’t pay cash under the table, that he could legally drive to work, and that he could finally hope for a better future in which he didn’t have to live in fear of an unexpected immigration raid.
For most of his life, Aguirre felt that he was at a disadvantage and that planning for the future was a waste of time. But after being approved as a DACA beneficiary, he was accepted into a selective medical chemistry class which confirmed his decision to pursue a career in healthcare. He also explains his family’s support for his career choice in an interview with GoForward.HarperCollege.edu:
“My mom had always pushed me to have an interest in medicine because I had group B streptococcal meningitis as a baby and almost died. The medical profession saved my life, and increasing access to better health care was one of the big reasons my parents moved here. I started to feel like I wanted to give back somehow. I want to take care of people and hopefully have a positive impact on people’s lives.”
DACA beneficiaries don’t qualify for financial aid, so Aguirre set his sights on Harper, an affordable college option thanks to privately funded scholarships that eased the financial burden of pursuing a nursing degree. Aguirre first set out to earn his licensed practical nurse certificate, and he is now finishing prerequisites for a bridge program to a registered nurse degree which he hopes to begin in the spring.
Following an announcement in early September that DACA will be phased out over the next six months, the cloud of uncertainty that Aguirre grew up under has now resurfaced. However, for the time being he has no plans to change course on his path to a career in nursing. He has sought support through a group for Harper DACA students and begun sharing his story to help others understand the benefits and importance of the DACA program.
To learn more about the DACA program and Aguirre’s experience pursuing a nursing degree as a DACA recipient, visit here.