Published February 23, 2021
UB nursing students are getting hands-on experience working with COVID-patients through a Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) at the Veterans Administration of Western New York Healthcare System (VAWNY).
The DEU experience, in which students are helping patients with COVID-19 who meet specific criteria receive monoclonal antibody, continues a tradition of providing nursing students the opportunity to gain one-on-one instruction in a real-life, clinical setting.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our dedicated VA nursing staff as they teach and mentor UB’s nursing students navigating our health care system,” says Stacey Scime, associate chief nurse for inpatients at the VA and UB nursing graduate. “Collaboratively, students and mentors alike are able to be part of something greater than themselves, providing state-of-the-art, groundbreaking treatment to our veterans during the next phase of the pandemic.”
Monoclonal antibody therapy, which started in January, is part of the VA’s “all-hands-on-deck,” proactive approach to ensure that uninterrupted access to optimal care continues for veterans, Scime says.
The DEU at VAWNY has been in place since fall 2019, providing clinical experiences for approximately 16 students each semester. This spring, students can volunteer to provide care to COVID-19 patients in the outpatient clinic, assisting their RN preceptor in educating patients and administering the monoclonal antibody therapy. Four students have volunteered to participate in the initiative so far.
“Helping veterans during this time is very important; I didn’t think twice about it,” says Madeline DiVencenzo, a senior nursing student. “Working with nurses caring for patients with COVID will help better prepare me as I enter the workforce during the pandemic. It’s good to see how calm and comfortable they (RNs) are with it, and it helps us (nursing students) to be more confident and comfortable.”
Catherine Mann, assistant dean of undergraduate studies in the School of Nursing, adds that the DEU at the VA also includes caring for patients in the COVID-19 unit. She commends the VA for “providing required PPE (personal protective equipment), a safe working environment and expert clinicians to better prepare our nursing students.”
Nursing faculty members Joann Sands and Donna Fabry led the school’s efforts, starting in spring 2020, to prepare students for clinical practice during the pandemic. Sands worked to develop COVID-19 learning modules as a means to educate students on the epidemiology, background and timeline of COVID-19, and its typical presentation and proper use of PPE.
Students will start providing care in the VA’s COVID-19 unit in the next few weeks.
The School of Nursing is also collaborating with other DEU partners to expand voluntary clinical experiences for students who wish to care for COVID-19 patients as part of their clinical rotations.