As an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Texas in El Paso, I live and serve in the US-Mexico border region.
My colleagues and I were asked to find creative solutions to train the next generation of health professionals who are in the final semester of nursing before graduation.
As health facilities in the region responded to the following pandemic, the local health system began to feel the tax implications of COVID-19. An initial response was to limit exposure to COVID-19 and remove students from clinical settings. However, health systems also limited learning experiences and led to a lack of clinical locations for students who need clinical practice hours for nursing permit programs. Faculty members had to identify opportunities for students to complete their clinical hours without straining local authorities.
Local health authorities use COVID-19 mitigation measures to reduce the spread of the virus in the community and exposure of the healthcare provider to the virus.
Local facilities began screening for symptoms of COVID-19 for anyone entering their facilities. This gave students the opportunity to use their skills and help with screening procedures. It was a challenge to develop creative solutions with local community partners so our students could gain experience and complete their graduation hours.
The students were asked to face the challenge. The response of health officials to the opening of practice environments and the encouragement of new medical professionals during the pandemic was a learning experience for everyone.
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, students are discouraged as they face the reality that they have graduated during this time and have entered the world of work. We should encourage students to contact us so that we can address their personal safety concerns while promoting our professional responsibility as a healthcare provider. Students need security and options to move forward.
I am proud of my students after the pandemic. Despite their concerns and fears, the students have continued to develop the profession through courage and perseverance.
As we continue to move forward in the critical times of the pandemic, I encourage colleagues from all health professions to consider non-traditional frameworks for educational purposes. Using local health facilities as resources can help you improve your student educational experience and relieve local health systems.
We are all challenged during this pandemic. However, it is up to us to continue to motivate and encourage each other to improve our overall response to adversity
Jacob Martinez, PhD, RN
The University of Texas at El Paso
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