Following the suspension of the on-campus spring semester, nursing students were not able to complete in-person clinicals as scheduled. Because of this, these students came back to campus two weeks before the start of the fall semester to complete their hours.
“I’m really proud of our students,” Dr. Cheryl Lee, assistant dean for clinical education, said. “They’ve worked so hard to be here, and the students who had to come back two weeks early have been working so hard.”
These clinicals are typically bi-weekly, where each nursing student is assigned a clinical rotation based on the class they are in. Every semester of nursing school, the students complete two different classes, each with a day of clinical that gives the students hands-on experience.
Lee is in charge of making sure students have a clinical assignment. Because of new COVID-19 procedures, some hospitals or programs have stopped allowing students into their facilities, have initiated screening forms that must be completed two hours before the student is due in the building, or have rejected students from entering.
This semester, the nursing program — as well as their respective agencies for clinicals — is implementing additional protocols for nursing students to complete their clinical hours.
One of the more dramatic alterations was restricting nursing students from traveling unless it is approved by the nursing department before they are scheduled to leave. Since each hospital has their own set of regulations, the college of nursing created rules to cover all of the hospitals’ requirements, one being that students were to ask for time off to leave the state at the beginning of the semester.
“As of this semester, they are not really wanting us to travel out of state, and that’s less of a Harding thing, but a lot of the local agencies we are at don’t want us to travel,” senior Audrey Beth Tillman said.
For senior Avery Underwood, this was a bit of a waiting game.
“I understood their need to protect my classmates — and most importantly our patients in the different hospitals and clinics we visit — and that was something that was very important to me too, but the uncertainty was very hard to hear,” Underwood said.
The senior was to be a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding in October, but was not sure if she would be able to go until the week of the wedding. Ultimately the decision was made that Underwood could attend because the number of cases in the county was lower than White County.
The nursing program is making great efforts to help students get all of their hours and competencies completed before the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I just know that our professors just really [worked hard] to get everything done and in for us this semester — for us to get into agencies and for us to be able to finish fully,” Tillman said.