Keene State students to begin nursing careers

This week, 46 junior and senior nursing students started clinicals.

Clinicals is the portion of the class that sends students to Cheshire Medical Center or in a simulation lab (Sim Lab) on campus where they learn how to take care of patients and demonstrate the skills they’ve learned in the classroom. This shows how well their communication technique is and how they interact with the patient.

Keene State College Nursing Program Director, Patricia Shinn, said the simulation lab is wonderful. “You have fun learning in the Sim Lab. We have the high-fidelity mannequins, and this morning they were working on METI-man with two of the faculty working with them in different scenarios. And at this basic point, we are looking for these students to demonstrate the skills they have learned up to this point.”

The simulation lab comes with patient charts, medications and everything needed to make it as close to a real clinical as possible.

Shinn said that some of the skills they have learned so far that they may use in clinical include working with patients in isolation, foley catheters and straight catheters, range of motion exercises, physical assessment, PO medications and soon monitoring IV’s.

“We’re really a practice profession, so you have to get in and really work with the patients too, you can’t just learn in here, on campus, even in our lab,” Shinn said. The students swap between clinical at the medical center and the simulation lab. “We can let the students make a mistake in the lab and they can ‘kill’ the patient, nobody’s hurt. You know, they learn from that.”

Shinn said that the clinicals are not only important for the student to be introduced to the patient, but learning to be a partner on a team. “To learn to work with the other nurses, the nurses’ aids, to learn to interact with doctors, to be immersed in the hospital environment and hear what’s going on, listen to change of reports so although they are working with one or two patients, they get to hear about all 20 of them that are on the unit. Getting to hear all the different terms and how nurses talk, and doctors talk.” Shinn said the students learn through the people who are ahead of them. In other words, they learn by watching the people that are already working in the profession. “It’s an excellent, real-life experience with giving medications and seeing the physical reaction of the patient.”

Clinicals are important so students can learn “to be a safe practitioner and provide quality care to their patients.” Shinn also added that “you can learn all the paperwork, the knowledge and have the education but unless you can apply it and it’s that application of the knowledge that is what really happens in clinical.”

Chloe Cyr is a junior in the nursing program, “It was such a great morning, and it was more amazing than I imagined it would be”. Cyr says she is the type of person that gets more excited than nervous but “I have to admit I did get a bit nervous driving up to the hospital”.

“On just my first day on the floor I was able to listen to lung and heart sounds, talk one on one with the patients and even administer my first vaccine to a patient”, Said Cyr.

Cyr went on to explain that the experience was above and beyond her expectations and that there were 5 students on the floor that got paired up with an RN to shadow for the day. “I believe that this is the best way to get the full experience, and I personally learned so much just within a few hours of working with my RN. Not only do you get to interact and work with patients, but you also get to learn so much from the nurse”. Cyr said her nurse went step by step explaining everything she was doing and that everyone at Cheshire Medical was welcoming and reassured the students that they have all been in their shoes before.

“I learned more in one day at clinical, than I can ever learn in a classroom. I cannot wait to go back and work with another RN and see more patients. This experience made me even more excited to become an RN”.

Ellie Shea is another junior in the nursing program. “We got to observe not only the nurses but the entire inter professional team including the doctor, LNAs, and physical and occupational therapists working together to provide care. I think it is very important to learn about the entire team rather than solely the nurses role”.

Shea described the clinicals as “a whole new experience” when comparing the simulation lab to being at Cheshire Medical. Shea had also mentioned that the students will soon be assigned patients to work with and care for. The nurses in the unit will be assisting and supervising the students while they work with their assigned patient.

“In my experience so far, clinicals are the most valuable learning setting in nursing as I get to see how real life health care workers interact and care for patients with a diverse set of conditions. I am very excited for the hands-on experience and to learn things that can’t be taught in a classroom or lab”.

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