In Texas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and many other states, nursing students are saying, “Would you please roll up your sleeve?”
Being a nursing student during a pandemic may be lacking in some respects, but at schools of nursing around the United States, students are helping to save lives and play an historic role. Some are keenly aware of their position. In Philadelphia, PA, Alondra Torregrossa, a nursing junior at Temple University’s College of Public Health, helped vaccinate 250 health workers at the Temple U Hospital as members of the media looked on. She said, “To be there as a student nurse felt like being a part of history,” but added, with a nurse’s passion for accuracy, that “I wasn’t too nervous, because I had a recently done flu shot clinic on the Health Sciences Campus.”
At Temple’s nursing program—like many others—students leapt at the chance to take part and gain more in-person experience with patients. Undergrad program director Joelle Hargraves remarked, “The opportunity for nursing students to participate was priceless. They eagerly volunteered to be part of an interprofessional team and witnessed how nurse leaders formulated and implemented a seamless plan for immunizing essential health care providers.”
“Despite the hospital being inundated with COVID-19 cases, the vaccination clinic is a glimmer of hope.”
University of Connecticut Nursing Student
The University of Connecticut School of Nursing called upon their students as well, and during the first two weeks of January they administered jabs to UConn Health staff and monitored them for adverse reactions. 20 students pitched in, but Dean Deborah Chyun said, “We initially had 85 undergraduate and graduate students express interest in volunteering, as well as a handful of faculty. Due to scheduling, not all were able to participate, but that level of caring speaks volumes about our students.”
In normal conditions, students rarely provide vaccinations even during clinicals, but Covid jab duty is now offers a precious opportunity to practice nursing. For example, “There was one occasion where an individual felt dizzy post-vaccination and required further evaluation,” says Amanda Moreau, a clinical coordinator and instructor with the U Conn School of Nursing. “The student played a crucial role in identifying that the individual did not feel well and initiated the proper protocol to call for additional medical assistance…”
After helping give shots to 200 U Connecticut Health workers, needle-wielding student Rebekah Gerber reflected, “It was easy to get lost in the procedure in the moment, but as I reflect back, I realize that these vaccines will save so many lives. It is an honor to have played a very small role in distributing the vaccines.”
Nursing students at University of Tennessee administered 400 shots in a single day. “They had the chance to talk with patients, answer questions they might have about the vaccine itself or side-effects, and even deal with some folks who might be nervous about getting the injection,” according to Victoria Niederhauser, the UT College of Nursing Dean.
A U Conn nursing student remarked on the experience, “I was often asked to take pictures of individuals receiving their vaccines so they could document their participation in this historic experience and encourage others to receive their vaccines as well. Overall, the environment was positive and uplifting. Despite the hospital being inundated with COVID-19 cases, the vaccination clinic is a glimmer of hope.”
Nursing students, nursing schools, school nurses grounded after school closures, and retired nurses are all joining the fight against the rising pandemic.
Here are just a few
examples to be found across the United States:
Belhaven’s School of Nursing are performing community outreach and
educating the public on how to protect themselves and others from the
virus. Students are teaching infection-control techniques, discussed
sanitation practices with the college’s operations team, and have
posted instructions in campus dorms on maintaining safe hygiene.
Senior Rebecca Rylander tells Jackson’s WJTV,
“There is a desperate need for healthcare workers amidst this
pandemic, and I want to help fill that need.”
Long Island, New
At nursing and
medical programs in Long Island, students barred from immediate
contact with patients are playing an active role behind the scenes
and on the front lines. While medical students at the Renaissance
School of Medicine in Stonybrook are conducting online research and
serving patients via telehealth sessions, the Barbara H. Hagan School
of Nursing and Health Sciences tells Newsday
that they have “alumni, graduate students and faculty working in
emergency rooms and testing sites, and undergraduates are working or
volunteering as nursing assistants.”
School nurses have
volunteered at Darien High School’s COVID-19 testing station. Lisa
Grant, a school district nurse at Hindley School, said “We had been
asking our director what we can do to help so when Darien signed up
for a site, we volunteered.” Yvonne Dempsey, of Ox Ridge School was
also ready to help out. Dempsey told the Darien
Times, “As nurses, we put ourselves out there any way we can. I
figured that’s something I can do in my free time with the schools
closed.” She adds, “Testing is the key — testing and isolation
as much as possible is the only way to stop the spread.”
Massachusetts, Caldwell, New Jersey, and elsewhere
In response to calls
from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing faculty
at colleges, universities, and community colleges are rushing to
donate supplies of everything from masks to isolation gowns, to hand
sanitizer. “This is a time when we all need to come together as a
community and work cooperatively to fight this pandemic for the
health and safety of everyone,” MassBay Community College President
David Podell told the Framingham
Source. Jennifer Rhodes, DNP, a faculty member at Caldwell
University’s School of Nursing and Public Health, remarked,
“As a former emergency room nurse, I cannot imagine what they are
experiencing on the front lines right now.”
Retired nurses are
also answering individual states’ call for help. Nebraska
TV spoke to 61-year-old Mary Steiner, a former emergency response
nurse, has volunteered for the Central Nebraska Reserve Core. As she
waits to put to use her training in natural disaster and emergency
preparedness, Mary remarks, “If it’s something that becomes as
serious as what’s going on in New York City right now… They’re
wanting all hands on deck and so regardless of what my workplace
setting has been in the past I know they’re going to be able to use
Our Nurse of the Week is Jasmin Flores, a nurse from Hartford, CT, who was driving on the highway when she came upon an overturned jeep and three passengers who required lifesaving CPR, including a toddler. Flores was one of the only bystanders who knew how to administer lifesaving support which enabled her to save the toddler’s life.
Flores inspired the local University of Saint Joseph to hold a community training session on CPR. Students and members of the public practiced CPR on dummies and learned proper technique. Flores tells the Hartford Courant:
“I think CPR should be like a rite of passage, something that you learn like you learn how to ride a bike. Because, you don’t need anything but your hands and your good intentions to save somebody’s life. It’s that simple.”
As Flores came upon the overturned Jeep, she saw the backseat had detached and there was a child’s car seat rolling down the hallway. The father, who had also been injured, was struggling to get to the car seat while the driver lay motionless on the pavement. All three had been ejected from the vehicle.
Flores immediately rushed to help and when she felt no pulse on the two-year-old, she proceeded to administer CPR until police and medics arrived. The father survived, but the driver was later pronounced dead. The two-year-old has since been discharged from Connecticut Children’s Medical Hospital in Hartford and is recovering.
To learn more about nurse Jasmin Flores and the lifesaving CPR she administered to a toddler who survived a fatal accident, visit here.
University President Peter Salovey and Dean of the School of Nursing Ann Kurth were present to cut the ribbon and invite students, faculty members, and guests to step foot into the new high-tech space. The new simulation lab was designed based on real-world healthcare settings where students can prepare themselves in simulated scenarios that they might encounter as nurse practitioners or midwives.
The $5 million project allowed for the building of an 8,000-square-foot space, a much larger space than the old simulation lab which was housed in the nursing building’s basement. The new space provides a safe learning environment for students to apply theory to practice, and it opened just in time to be used for the incoming fall class.
Salovey tells YaleDailyNews.com, “I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see the opening of a wing I didn’t even know was here, that really allows for the education of students using patient actors and lets you practice disaster scenarios and conventional situations.”
Many of the simulations use standardized patients who are real people acting out situations and ailments. Others use mannequins which mimic anything from bleeding to delivering a baby. These improvements are designed to better align the school with the future of health care and the needs of a larger student population.
To learn more about Yale Nursing’s new simulation lab, visit here.
YNHH’s program is one of many apprenticeship programs to receive funding from the Connecticut Department of Labor. The US Department of Labor has allotted a total of $5 million in grant money for programs in the state.
The Nurse Residency Apprenticeship program at YNHH was the first of its kind in Connecticut when it was established in 2005. During the one-year residency, new nursing school graduates receive mentorship, computer-based training and monthly lectures, and strategies for stress management.
Judith Hahn, who oversees the apprenticeship program, tells YaleDailyNews.com, “The responsibility of the hospital is great in making sure that they’re comfortable and that they’re confident and that they have safe experiences for them and their patients, and that’s really costly to do right.”
All new nursing graduates who begin working at YNHH are required to go through the program. More than 180 nurses have enrolled in the program since July 1, with 40 more nurses expected to begin the program in the coming months. The newly graduated nurses have the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of hospital settings.
To learn more about Yale New Haven Hospital’s Nurse Residency Apprenticeship Program, visit here.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholars program recently selected 28 schools across the nation to receive a $15,000 grant to increase the number of nurses with doctorates. The University of Connecticut (UConn) School of Nursing was one of the schools selected, and the grant will go toward providing support, mentoring, and leadership development to nurses who commit to earning their doctorates in three years.
This is the second time the RWJ Foundation has awarded this scholarship funding to UConn. The School of Nursing has two scholars currently enrolled and plans to choose additional students in April to begin their doctoral studies in the fall semester.
The Future of Nursing Scholars official website states: “The Future of Nursing Scholars Program is creating a diverse cadre of PhD prepared nurses who are committed to a long-term leadership career; advancing science and discovery through research; strengthening nursing education; and furthering transformational change in nursing and health care.”
Following recent guidelines from the National Institute of Medicine that the country double the number of nurses with doctorates, the Future of Nursing Scholars program hopes to help contribute to educating more advanced level nurses. Currently, nurses holding PhD degrees make up only one percent of nurses, but the demand for these nurses is much higher, and UConn amongst other prestigious nursing programs around the country intends to continue increasing the number of doctorate level nurses graduating from their programs each year.