Campus News

Nursing program prepares students for real-world encounters

Nursing students
Pictured left to right – Alexis Stumpf, Kaitlyn Peck and ToriJo Peterson simulate proper techniques for safely hoisting patients for real-life patient encounters. PHOTO BY JESSICA MCWILLIAMS

Program educators in Kirkwood Community College’s nursing program say that adequate preparation for the work environment coupled with stressing the importance of self-care, is among the driving factors that make their students successful practitioners and outstanding patient care providers.   

Moreover, strong program outcomes such as training their student nurses to work cohesively on interdisciplinary healthcare teams, adhering to evidence-based practice, and making patients the focal point of their work, adds to the program’s strength in producing fully competent nurses in the field, said Kathyrn Dolter, dean of Kirkwood’s nursing program.  

“There are so many positives to helping a person make it through a critical illness,” she said. 

Prior to entering the program, prospective nursing students are required to obtain a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant credential). Dolter said this preparatory training prepares students for a whole new environment which allows them to actively engage in real-world patient care experiences.  These include working with pathogens and toxic agents, the ability to properly manage safety issues, tackling long working hours, and in some cases, being assigned to shorter staffed departments, clinics and hospitals. 

Exposure to these day-to-day aspects of the profession helps perspective nurses better determine whether becoming a nurse is a good personal fit in the long-run, Dolter said.  Without this kind of training and real-life patient care experience, it would be difficult understand the rigors a nurse may encounter, she added. 

Also at the height of the COVID-19 virus, Kirkwood’s nursing students were one of few programs that were able to complete their clinicals.  This is due to good partnerships with hospitals local such as the University of Iowa Hospitals and clinics, Mercy Cedar Rapids, St. Luke’s Hospitals as well as rural access hospitals, Dr. Dolter said.   

As a result, the program consistently ranks number one in the state of Iowa based on data illustrating the number of the nursing students who successfully pass the NCLEX Licensure Exam, which allows nurses to formally practice at either the LPN or RN levels.  

Finally, Dolter said the program hopes to continue to strengthen its emphasis on ways its students can practice safe self-care methods in order to help mitigate some of the stressors that comes with nursing.  As a result, the department plans to continuously follow the Healthy Nursing Initiative – a national platform which emphasizes proper self-care among nurses.  As a result, the department plans to offer an entire module on these practices during its upcoming orientation in January.  

These will include thorough discussions of proper rest and engaging in practices such as yoga and meditation to maintain solid health and well-being. 

Image courtesy of Jessica McWilliams

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