As Local Hospitals Treat COVID-19 Patients, Nursing Students Are Shut Out

Mar 17, 2020
Originally published on March 16, 2020 4:41 pm

Hospitals across the First Coast, including Mayo Clinic and the Orange Park Medical Center, confirm they’re treating coronavirus patients. As the outbreak is expected to worsen, hospitals are taking steps to limit exposure to their patients and staff. Some of those measures pose a challenge to students who are required to have hands-on experience in medical facilities.

Baptist Health announced last week that it would not allow students into its facilities for the time being. The hospital also announced Sunday that a patient at Baptist South had tested positive for the coronavirus. 

 

“Out of an abundance of caution in light of the COVID-19 virus, Baptist Health has decided to suspend ALL student clinical rotations, internships, and practicums for ALL clinical and non-clinical students. This change is effective immediately and will remain in effect until further notice,” read an email from Baptist Health sent to students on Thursday.

 

“The reason we did this was to reduce exposure to them, our patients, and our team members,” Baptist spokeswoman Cindy Hamilton told WJCT News. “We will resume when things clear up.”

 

Related: Your Coronavirus Questions Answered

 

But as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to grow, it’s not clear when things will start to clear up, leaving people like Florida State College at Jacksonville nursing student Lorraine Prevalon wondering what this situation could mean both for her education and her graduation date. 

 

Prevalon, 29, is scheduled to walk this August. She thinks the school and the hospital should do whatever it takes to avoid graduation delays, whether that’s simulations or virtual reality labs. 

 

However, she does believe Baptist made the right call.

 

“I feel like at a time like this we have to be out of the hospitals, out of those facilities, until we get this thing taken care of,” she said. 

 

While Prevalon doesn’t think her theoretical knowledge will suffer, she is concerned nursing students won’t be getting as much real-life experience as they would otherwise.

 

“I can read the book, understand it, and really grab it from there. But experience, you know getting into the field and having that confidence like, ‘Oh I recognize this from the book,’ or, ‘I know how to deal with this situation because I learned it in the book,’ no, we will not get that. It will be compromised,” she said. 

 

FSCJ says it is in the process of developing a plan for its nursing students.

 

We are working with all allied health programs to create alternate clinical assignments whether on campus or online,” FSCJ Spokeswoman Jill Johnson wrote in an email to WJCT News. “We do not see an issue at this time regarding extending graduation dates.”

 

Photo used under Creative Commons license.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

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