Thanks to clinical partners such as the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, McKay, Lito and their classmates have experienced 12-hour work shifts, experienced continuity of care with patients and become acquainted with the hospital's system of care. In addition, students have had the opportunity to work in a variety of nursing settings, such as in local schools and community sites, and obstetric, acute and pediatric nursing units.
In a typical nursing school curriculum, the student might not get continuity-of-care experience and receive only brief, limited contact with each hospital's system of care, location of supplies and charting methods.
"I've been able to connect with patients and follow them throughout the course of their treatment because we work three rotation shifts in a week," said Lito. "Whereas the traditional student may not have the opportunity to see the same patient each shift of their rotation since it may be on a weekly basis."
In addition, clinical preceptors within each unit serve as mentors who are able to address concerns or questions students may have during their shift. "Our preceptors have been very valuable to the experience because we get to observe them working, as well as get feedback on what we are doing," said McKay. "The program really fosters a mentorship environment."
Rozmus, along with Stephanie Meyers, Ph.D., R.N., director of the Pacesetters program, are observing and assessing the Pacesetters students to compare the new approach to the traditional track. Thus far, students are pleased with the route they selected and feel prepared.
"We have noticed that Pacesetters students have been very supportive of each other and want everyone to be successful," said Meyers. She and Rozmus will continue to track the students after graduation to assess their competency, both from their perspective and from evaluations by the managers/preceptors.
"The Pacesetters program is a win-win for everybody and, potentially, a national model for new educational approaches to addressing the nationwide nursing shortage," said UTHealth School of Nursing Dean Patricia L. Starck, D.S.N., R.N.
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