Lawrence Technological University nursing students are on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic, even before their graduation.
“We have eight nursing students working right now,” said M. Therese Jamison, director of LTU’s nursing program. They’re working as patient care technicians at Ascension hospitals in Southfield and Warren, at Trinity Health’s St. Joseph Hospital in Ann Arbor, a private rehab and extended care facility, and at Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak. All are exposed to COVID-19 patients.
The students’ duties include bathing patients, helping them get up and around for treatments, obtaining vital signs and checking their blood sugar. The students have been fully protected with appropriate equipment on the job, Jamison said.
“They are feeling very needed at this time,” Jamison said. “They are showing great perseverance, great resilience. I think they are seeing way more than they ever thought they would see this early in their careers. But they’re staying as positive as they can. They are experiencing something that they hopefully will never experience again in their lifetimes, and they have not even graduated yet.”
In addition, LTU nursing faculty—who are still working in nursing one day a week in hospital settings—are fighting to heal COVID-19 patients at Ascension Warren (Jamison), Ascension Providence Hospital Novi (Brian Kaminski), and Henry Ford Health System Macomb Campus in Shelby Township (Margaret Glembocki).
It’s ironic, Jamison said, that in March 2019, long before the pandemic hit, the World Health Organization named 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, honoring the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of nursing as a profession.
Jamison said the nursing students have been holding online classes since March 23, where she’s emphasizing the need for their self-care.
“Our program is based upon Relationship-Based Care, which means developing a healing and caring relationship with your patients and colleagues,” she said. “We had a long conversation about what they’re doing now in the midst of this crisis for their own self-care. We talked about eating better and taking vitamins and going outside when it’s nice, and we talked about their mental health, just how important it is to maintain these care practices during this crisis.”
That advice, Jamison said, applies to the public as much as her nursing students.
“What I tell the students is that you have to figure out what has helped you in the past when you are faced with a crisis, and then engage in those activities now,” she said. “If it is prayer, then pray. If it is exercise, then exercise every day. We can’t go to a gym, but we can walk fast or ride a bike—just avoid times when it’s high traffic for safety reasons. Go dig in the garden.” Natural light, fresh air, cleanliness and good nutrition are in line with the teachings of Nightingale, she said.
Even before the pandemic, experts have predicted a huge need for nurses in the near future. By 2030, the number of registered nurses needed in the United States is estimated to skyrocket by 28.4 percent, from 2.8 million to 3.6 million, according to RegisteredNurses.org.
For more information on LTU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, visit https://www.ltu.edu/arts_sciences/naturalsciences/bachelor-of-science-nursing.asp.
LTU’s BSN program has been ranked in the top third of Michigan nursing education programs—even before graduating its first students. In only its third year, LTU's nursing program was ranked No. 22 among 79 nursing education programs in Michigan, according to Nursing Schools Almanac, an online ranking service for nursing schools. Lawrence Tech began accepting students into its BSN program in August 2017. The program, a partnership with the healthcare nonprofit Ascension Michigan and its six hospitals in southeast Michigan, will graduate its first nurses in May 2021.