Pellissippi State Community College is helping Blount Memorial Hospital nurses train to care for COVID-19 patients.
The partnership allows the Maryville hospital’s nurses to train in the nursing simulation lab on the college’s Blount County campus.
“We have gotten together with Briana Dahl, the critical care educator for Blount Memorial, to create simulation scenarios based on actual cases to better prepare these nurses for what can come up in the hospital,” said assistant professor Ronda McCown, who is the lab coordinator for Pellissippi State’s nursing program.
For Blount Memorial’s critical care nurses, the simulations will be a review. But for the hospital’s medical-surgical nurses, the single largest nursing specialty in the United States, the simulations allow them to practice skills they might not have used since they were in nursing school.
“Learning is often experiential,” said Michelle McPherson, director of education for Blount Memorial. “This training enables us to run scenarios that maybe they’ve only come across once or twice in their career.”
As Pellissippi State continues to follow guidelines for social distancing, only seven people are allowed in the lab at one time: one ICU-surgical nurse and four medical-surgical nurses, as well as Katrenia Hill, nursing skills and simulation laboratories coordinator for Pellissippi State and nursing instructor Anna Wells.
“We purposely mixed the floor staff who aren’t used to dealing with ventilators and COVID-19 with our critical care unit nurses, who can serve as team leads,” McPherson explained.
Training began May 27, and by the time it ends, 61 Blount Memorial medical-surgical nurses will have more experience in intubation care, putting patients on a ventilator, adjusting ventilator settings, suctioning and “proning” patients, which means lying them flat on their chests.
These COVID-19 trainings, which are expected to wrap up June 17, are just the beginning of what Pellissippi State and Blount Memorial nursing staffs envision being a year-round partnership.
“We are trying to start up a nurse residency program that would meet once a month for one year,” McPherson said. “These four-hour sessions would allow us time to address things new nurses may need help with, such as mock codes and leadership training.”
The conversation with Pellissippi State actually started last fall, noted Joseph Newsome, assistant chief nursing officer for Blount Memorial, before the pandemic pushed that training to the forefront.
“When Mr. Newsome and I met last fall and he toured our Blount County campus, we started discussing all of the possibilities for a training partnership between the college and the hospital,” said Dean of Nursing Angela Lunsford. “Blount Memorial provides several clinical training areas for our nursing program, and it is our hope that using the simulation lab at Pellissippi State will strengthen training for nursing students, new graduate nurses and experienced ones.”