Senior nursing students at Midland University recently got a chance to operationalize Midland’s DRIVE success attributes of innovation, research/critical thinking, and engagement through a collaborative project with health care professionals at Methodist Fremont Health.
As part of course requirements for NUR 405 Advanced Medical Surgical Nursing and NUR 426 Professional Concepts, senior nursing students completed a Quality Improvement project, meeting with MFH staff members throughout the semester to engage in a process for examining and exploring solutions related to a specific Quality Improvement/Patient Safety focus. The seniors presented those findings during the 2022 Fall Research Fair on December 6th.
Kay Meints (‘08), Patient Safety & Accreditation Coordinator at MFH, helped coordinate the project with Midland nursing professors Diana Moxness and Jane Hiatt. “It was a joy to work with Diana as she was my professor when I was in nursing school,” Meints said. “It was a neat opportunity to work alongside, and support, someone who truly was such an amazing advocate and advisor at Midland.”
As the next generation of nurses prepares to enter the workforce, Meints was grateful that MFH could play a role in shaping the career paths for nursing students. “The quality and process improvement part of nursing is such a big part of the profession, something I didn’t learn until later in my career,” she said. “I feel honored to be able to provide a platform, or modality, to which some of the process improvement parts of nursing are explored.”
Brianna Cavalieri was one of 26 senior nursing students to take part in the project. She appreciated the knowledge, and experience the staff at MFH provided. “This experience was very educational in helping us learn the research process from start to finish, with a focus on real-world healthcare issues,” Cavalieri said. “Working with the staff was amazing. I learned so much about how data is collected by MFH to make improvements, as well as improving patient care and safety. What I learned about the nursing research process will stay with me throughout my career.”
Midland nursing students valued the information they were able to glean from staff members and hope they can apply that when they enter the nursing field. “I thought it was helpful to get out and meet people in the workforce,” Coden Prokopec said. “Seeing someone who was a nurse, but worked in an area other than direct patient care, was also helpful. I learned that change is a slow process and something that looks simple on paper involves a lot of work by a lot of different people to make it happen. I feel like having this knowledge will allow me to always appreciate the people supporting me behind the scenes.”
Meints believes one of the greatest lessons students can learn from this process is that they should never be afraid to ask questions about how each process works. “Nurses are privileged with the responsibility to be the patient advocate and ensure that patients get the care they need, when they need it,” she said. “The care that patients need today has evolved and become more comprehensive due to multiple comorbidities (multiple diseases in the body) that patients develop through their lifespan. With that evolution, the care that nurses provide and involvement they have in guiding that care must evolve as well. I hope the students learned that asking why things work the way they do, why we do things a certain way, or why the same outcomes keep reoccurring is not only needed, but encouraged, in the healthcare industry.”
Jessica Montes discovered the value of hospice care and the need to make patients feel as comfortable as possible during what can be a difficult time. “I learned about the importance of getting hospice referrals early so that patients can experience six months worth of benefits during the end of their life care instead of a couple of weeks,” she said. “As a future nurse, I will advocate for these earlier referrals to promote better end of life care for these patients.”
One of Midland’s goals is for its students to become critical thinkers and utilize sound clinical judgment in the workforce, a very vital component in the healthcare industry. Meints believes part of the process in becoming a critical thinker is realizing that not everything will always go as planned. “I hope they learned that trying something and not meeting the objectives, or preset metrics, is OK,” she said. “More is often learned from failed attempts than the successful ones. I also hope they learned that transparency is needed in healthcare and it allows for ideas and discussions to flow for coordination of efforts and thought from unit to unit and from employee to patient.”
Students were able to relay what they had learned to Midland faculty, staff and students during the Research Fair, while several staff members from MFH were also present to lend additional support. “This experience was unlike any other for a clinical experience,” Charles Buckley said. “Working with Methodist Fremont Health for our projects gave us a chance to generate ideas and use our minds to look for more out-of-the-box solutions. I learned so much about the collaboration process when researching evidence-based practices, as well as how to work with more experienced nurses. That experience will benefit us throughout our careers.”