Partnership with Mitchell Community College Brings Clinical Rotations to Davie Medical Center

Barbara Turner, MSN, says she can’t think of any job she would rather do than working as a nurse. Unless, perhaps, it’s teaching others how to become nurses.

Turner, a staff nurse at Wake Forest Baptist Health Davie Medical Center, spent 16 weeks earlier this year working with seven students in the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Program at Mitchell Community College in Statesville.

From January through May, the students went through clinical rotations at Davie Medical Center. It was the first time the facility has hosted a clinical training program, and it demonstrated that training future medical professionals can extend throughout the Wake Forest Baptist Health system.

Turner, in her 31st year as a nurse, has worked with Mitchell’s ADN Program since 2008. She joined Davie Medical Center in April 2017. Its environment and patient- and family-centered care model impressed her as a good setting for training nurses.

She discussed the idea of hosting rotations with Kim Stanbery, DNP, RN, OCN, NEA-BC, Davie Medical Center’s chief nursing officer, and Sandra McDonald, RN, MSN, Turner’s nurse manager, and they helped get the training program approved.

Stanbery said that since Davie Medical Center’s inpatient unit opened in April 2017, patient volume has expanded enough to support clinical rotations. She said an aging workforce of nurses who are readying for retirement and a lack of academic nurse faculty positions is contributing to a nursing shortage at a number of hospitals in the region. That makes clinical rotation sites even more valuable.

“There is great personal satisfaction when we can lead the way for those entering the profession,” Stanbery said.

Each student was assigned two patients. The students learned to make patient assessments and to place IVs and Foley catheters. They also joined in each patient’s daily group meeting, which includes everyone involved on that patient’s care team.

Turner works with Davie Medical Center’s Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit, which she said is well-suited for nursing clinical rotations. ACE patients generally remain in the unit for care, rather than leaving for surgeries or procedures, allowing students to spend more time developing vital patient assessment skills.

“I tell the students that if they can assess a patient thoroughly, if something goes wrong, they will know it,” Turner said. “They might not know exactly what’s wrong, but they will know that something is not right. Their assessment skills are valuable. I felt like that if they could do assessments with these patients, the tasks they really want to do, like IVs and Foley catheters, will fall into place.”

The ACE unit proved a good fit for nursing student Ada Swierczewski. The Statesville native is a first-generation American who was inspired to pursue nursing after helping to care for her grandfather, who was disabled and came to America from Mexico with Swierczewski’s mother.

“I like taking care of patients,” she said, “and I can see my Grandpa in every single one of them.”

Swierczewski described a supportive learning environment at Davie.

“It was really stressful, with a lot of activity and paperwork, but the environment at Davie is very warm,” she said. “The nurses were super motivated and interested in us, and they were willing to share information and show us certain techniques and procedures. Davie did that in a way that was outstanding.”

As the rotations neared an end in May, Davie Medical Center’s nursing leaders and Chaplain Adam Ridenhour organized a Blessing of the Hands ceremony for the students.

“We talked about how this would be something that they’re going to experience throughout their nursing careers, and it’s a way of bringing them into the fold of nursing,” Ridenhour said of the interfaith service that is closely associated with nursing. “Their hands are vital to our patient care, and we wanted to celebrate what their hands are doing and what they will be doing as they enter the profession.

“It was a nice way to symbolize the growth the students have had while they’ve been with us and the service they are dedicating their lives to.”

For Morgan Barto, one of the nursing students, the ceremony added to a welcoming atmosphere at Davie Medical Center that she has not found at other clinical training sites.

“As nursing students, we are working our absolute hardest with the information we have learned and are continuing to learn,” Barto said. “I feel like we can get burned out, as many nurses so often do, because no one notices how hard we are working. I felt like this ceremony showed that, as nursing students, we are noticed, appreciated and welcomed.”

According to Stanbery, the partnership with Mitchell Community College is only the beginning. The first cohort of nursing students from Forsyth Technical Community College just started rotations at Davie, where the staff looks forward to partnering with all area colleges.

“We have a booming surgical services department, thanks to the growth of our Joint Replacement and Spine programs,” Stanbery said. “I believe we have a wonderful opportunity for students to appreciate the full continuum of surgical care.”