William Jewell College Nursing majors get hands on experience that prepares them for post-graduate employment through work at local hospitals.
Clinicals are a part of every William Jewellnursing student’s education, but for those outside the program, the importance of clinicals is often overlooked. Nursing clinicals give students the opportunity to take the skills they learn in the classroom and apply them to real patients. William Jewell’s location is beneficial for nursing students because of the variety of hospitals located within close proximity, which allows students to work with a wide range of patients.
“Our goal is that when they leave here they are able to take care of any kind of patient: a baby, a child, adolescent or an elderly patient,” Dr. Leesa McBroom, chair of William Jewell’s nursing department, said.
Students work at a variety of facilities, including teaching hospitals, community hospitals, not-for-profit and for-profit hospitals.
Working at different locations not only allows students to work with different groups of people, but also helps students figure out what kind of hospital they would like to work at later. Clinicals give students the opportunity to learn about the pathophysiology and pharmacology as well as understand how family, social, economical and cultural issues impact care.
Jewell’s program is based on the critical thinking and inquiry skills developed in CTI classes.
“You can’t know it all, but you have to be able to have those critical thinking skills to be able to think through problems and issues,” McBroom said.
Jewell’s clinical program has a six-to-one student-faculty ratio, which allows one-on-one learning time. The Jewell nursing program is based on six hallmarks: compassion, integrity, leadership, scholarship, excellence in practice and service to others. In addition, Jewell’s clinicals provide networking opportunities for students. Since students are able to work with many nurses and at a variety of hospitals, they are able to create a network of viable post-graduation career options.
Students will have one to two clinicals per semester, starting spring semester of sophomore year. Each clinical requires students to work an eight to 12 hour shift with a single nurse at an assigned hospital every week.
In total, students will complete over 650 hours of clinical work. The nursing class in which a student is enrolled determines where in the hospital they work. Clinicals require a lot of work outside of the clinical itself. Mary Amelia Fichter, Madison Cimpl and Savanna Myers are all junior Nursing and ACT-In majors at Jewell. These students and their peers have weekly labs where they learn new skills, such as IVs and shots, by practicing on simulation dummies.
To prepare for clinicals, they fill out a list of medications, review information on patients, and talk to day and night shift nurses. After clinical, students have a lot of paperwork, including a mock-chart, a patient care plan and reflection.
The care plan includes nursing diagnoses, which use symptoms instead of actual disease names and set up goals needed for the patient to get better. Fichter, Cimpl, Myers and other nursing students also have to chart assessments of all the systems in the body. Finally, there is a reflection activity after each clinical.
“You always have to do a reflection and evaluation of your day because the nursing department emphasizes that it is important to self-reflect in order to grow,” said Fichter.
Students report that the first clinical experience can be daunting.
“I was so scared at first. My instructor had to push me into the room. Even though I know I want to be nurse, it was still really intimidating,” said Fichter.
Aside from the medical side of learning, Myers and Fichter emphasized the importance of learning to relax and be yourself while talking to patients. Being able to administer medication to patients is not the only skill a nurse needs; effectively communicating is also important. Myers found that working on the oncology floor was a lot harder than she had expected, but found the experience rewarding regardless.
“I would hate to graduate nursing school and not have had any exposure to taking care of people who only have a few months to live,” said Myers.
Having had this experience, Myers knows that she would either like to work with pediatrics or oncology.
Cimpl enjoys being able to use skills she learns and practices on the simulation dummies in a real world setting. The simulation labs have dummies capable of simulating a long list of symptoms, diseases and childbirth scenarios.
Fichter was recently able to experience three childbirths during her clinicals in the labor and delivery wing. She hopes to pursue a career either in labor and delivery or in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Through similar experiences in clinicals, Cimpl has decided she wants to work either in pediatrics or in the NICU.
“The patients thank you for your time. On my very first day, I was terrified and my patient looked at me and she goes, ‘You’re going to make a great nurse one day.’ It’s a really rewarding major,” said Cimpl.