August 4, 2006

Schools unite to train future nurses

Featured Image

Young Hwang, a David Lipscomb University student studying at Vanderbilt, assesses Julia Greene in the Neuroscience Patient Care unit, as Betsy Groendk, R.N., B.S.N., inputs chart information.
Photo by Dana Johnson

Schools unite to train future nurses

Vanderbilt nursing officials have been working together closely this summer to provide David Lipscomb University B.S.N. students with their first externship opportunities.

In January, the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing welcomed its first class of 32 David Lipscomb students into an intensive nursing education program. When the students complete it this summer, they will receive a B.S.N. from their home institution. Vanderbilt pays for the difference in tuition between the two universities and offers loan forgiveness for students who agree to work at VUMC for two years after earning their B.S.N.

“The Lipscomb students are energized and are becoming more invested in VUMC with the level of hands-on education we're able to offer with programs like this summer's externship,” said Linda Norman, D.S.N., senior associate dean of faculty at VUSN.

Each year, one-third of VUMC's new nursing hires are recent graduates. To recruit and orient nurses costs anywhere from $65,000 for a general acute care nurse to $100,000 for a critical care nurse. The extern program is just another innovative way to get nurses prepared for success in nursing through the collaboration between VUMC and VUSN.

This summer, 17 of the Lipscomb students were accepted into the VUMC extern program with a total of 41 slots. The program is an intensive, eight-week session of job shadowing in one clinical area within the medical center. The goal is for students to learn nursing fundamentals and gain experience dealing with patients.

“You ask a student nurse about what scares them the most and they will say 'how to talk to patients and their families,'” said Debianne Peterman, Ph.D., M.S.N., director of Nursing Education and Development.

“The program was designed to be a good recruiting and educational piece to give students an idea about what patient care options are available to them as nursing graduates,” said Betsy Bond, B.S.N., a consultant who has administered VUMC's externship program for more than a decade.

The students are placed in one of several different clinical areas, such as the operating room, inpatient care, outpatient care, etc., for the entire session. Bond also developed three all-day learning events throughout the session to give students a chance to debrief, focus on specific interventions and to rotate to other clinical areas.

Lipscomb extern Young Joo Hwang, who worked in the Neurology ICU said, “It's been wonderful. It brings theory and lecture to life by giving hands-on experience.

“At first I was scared about dealing with patients, and then I realized the more I talked to them, the more comfortable everyone is. They are just normal people.”

Peterman explained that it can be very difficult for instructors to stuff the extensive amount of theory and clinical skills required into the final two years of a B.S.N. program.

“We're all taking a critical look at how we can get students in front of patients sooner,” said Peterman. “You can pass the nursing state boards without having good clinical skills, but when you want to provide good care to a patient, you will need to have had excellent hands-on clinical experiences.”

“They want to be here,” said Bond. “They are fresh, excited and soaking the clinical experiences up like sponges.”