Source: Hope Health
Even as COVID-19 restrictions have seriously limited clinical placements for college nursing programs, clinical educators at HopeHealth have found a way to safely welcome Salve Regina University nursing students for experiential learning.
A total of 21 Salve seniors enrolled in an end-of-life care course for the spring 2021 semester are being allowed two at a time into the 24-bed inpatient unit, HopeHealth Hulitar Hospice Center, for half-day visits from late January through February. This is an adapted schedule to accommodate in-person learning during the pandemic.
The Salve students— who arrive wearing N95 masks and most vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine—come on a scheduled rotation three days a week to tour the facility, meet with staff to learn about hospice care and participate in a simulated shift report. Students also observe a nurse on medication rounds, review the way care is charted in electronic medical records and practice using IV pumps.
Preceptorships—mentored in-person experience in a clinical setting—are the foundation of clinical undergraduate nursing education.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to share what we know so nurses can start their careers with a well-rounded perspective that includes end-of-life care,” said Cynthia Brown, RN, CHPN, HopeHealth Hospice Clinical Educator.
Brown collaborated with colleagues to space out the preceptorship schedule to allow social distancing and work around construction to add six more rooms to the Hulitar Hospice Center. The schedule invites more students to visit than in the past but for shorter durations. Before the pandemic, about a dozen Salve students would each be able to visit the Hulitar Hospice Center to shadow an individual nurse on a designated day for half a semester.
“It was absolutely beautiful inside. Everyone was so welcoming,” said Salve senior Allison DeLuca, who spent part of a recent Monday at the Hulitar Hospice Center. “The thing that I found so special was that the patients were allowed to have visitors.”
Visitor access has continued throughout the pandemic so families can be at the bedside of a loved one who is dying. Two visitors can be with a patient in their room at a time. The number can increase to three visitors when it appears a patient is likely to pass away within 24 hours.
DeLuca is among 40 Salve students taking Families in Transition: Aging and End-of-Life Care this spring with Salve Assistant Professor Julie L’Europa, DNP, APN, CNP.