Public health clinical partnership
To protect students and faculty from exposure to COVID-19 when staffing levels are low and personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are in short supply, a prudent decision was made to cancel off-site clinical experiences for undergraduate and graduate students beginning March 9, 2020. This decision supports CDC guidelines to reduce non-essential personnel in the areas of higher risk for exposure.
With approval from UW President Cauce and Provost Richard, we are partnering with Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) to provide nursing students with opportunities to gain experience while maintaining social distancing and limiting the need for PPE.
We believe this is the first partnership of its kind in the country that offers three distinct learning opportunities for nursing students in collaboration with a public health department. You will use your skillset to respond to a very urgent public need, allowing you to learn and serve the public.
Undergraduate senior practicum students can be assigned to the PHSKC Novel Coronavirus Call Center. This center handles more than 800 calls per day from the public about COVID-19. Students will provide public service by using their nursing and scientific knowledge to provide evidence-based, accurate information that reflects CDC, state, and PHSKC guidelines.
DNP students can be placed in telehealth/telemedicine environments, working with preceptors to provide virtual visits. These visits allow DNP students to complete the clinical hours needed to prepare for graduation, certification, and licensure. Telehealth is becoming increasingly important and viable as a means of delivering care to rural and remote areas, as well as for people who are unable to access primary care because of issues such as mobility and quarantine.
Licensed graduate students
Another option to provide clinical learning opportunities for licensed graduate students will be at a proposed PHSKC COVID Shelter System, which incorporates an assessment center and recovery center. The assessment center is for patients who are ill with respiratory symptoms but do not require hospitalization. The recovery center is for patients recovering post-hospitalization. ARNP graduate faculty and registered nurses employed by Kaiser Permanente and the Health Department will provide on-site supervision of all graduate students.
Direct patient care
Currently, we cannot rely on sufficient quantities of PPE from our clinical partners as they simply do not have it to spare. Therefore, we have tried to procure our own PPE from a variety of sources so that we can ensure that students and faculty have access before engaging in patient care where there may be patients who are positive for COVID-19 or other infectious diseases requiring special precautions.
As soon as we have a supply of high-quality PPE, we will examine direct care clinical experiences in earnest. We are hopeful that we will have a clear pathway, including university administration approval, to place students in a variety of clinical settings by the end of spring quarter and throughout summer quarter.