Nursing Students Withheld From Clinicals Once Again

Lenna Kidd, News Editor

For the second semester in a row, nursing students are experiencing setbacks in their clinical time at Geisinger Hospital located in Danville, PA. Students were supposed to start their clinical journey at the hospital last week but were held from going to the hospital. The only reasoning students had was simply, “We were not cleared to go” nursing student Elizabeth Brace stated. Last semester, the students weren’t able to attend clinical for a total of four weeks.

Another concern of many nursing students is the rising clinical size. The student-to-instructor ratio rose throughout the past couple semesters, which takes away precious one-on-one time students have with their instructors. Brace shared the concerns of herself and other students in the program stating, “My sophomore year clinical groups were six students to one instructor, then last semester it went to eight students to one instructor, and now it’s ten students to one instructor.” After showing concern over the rising numbers, the nursing students were told by instructors that they “were instructed by the school to do this.”

Jessica Bower, the department chair for the nursing department, agreed that there was a delay in “getting some students entered into the clinical setting.” She elaborated, “The clinical time is being replaced with simulation and other alternate learning activities.” While students may not be getting the in-person hospital time they want and need, they are at least getting virtual learning and experience while the delay is being sorted out. Bower reassures that the delay is only temporary and that “Some students started last week, some started this week, all will go out to clinical next week. I want to emphasize that there were still clinical activities taking place. We needed to be creative with how we provide clinical learning activities. It is acceptable with accrediting nursing bodies to have clinical outside the hospital setting.”

Bower recalls there are many schools throughout the country who never experience the in-person hospital setting while in college. “We are very fortunate to have exceptional relationships with our clinical partners and we have been in constant communication with them to expedite the process to get all students in the hospital.”

Luckily, all nursing students have a department who are working extremely hard to get them to the hospital and will do so in the upcoming weeks.

Yet, there are still disappointments for the students when it comes to growing clinical size. The answer to this: money. Bower states, “Clinical sizes slightly increased this semester to match those that are seen nationally. Nursing programs are extremely expensive to run due to the small group sizes for clinical. This was done to be more fiscally responsible.”

Aside from the financial reasoning for growing clinical size, the department is also trying to help alleviate the growing demand for nurses and hospital staff. Bower states, “This allows the university to increase class sizes and graduate more nursing students to meet the increasing demands of the industry.”

The looming setbacks regarding the nursing clinical are being dealt with as the university sees fit. Although students are still feeling left in the dark. “Overall, it does blindside students because the first few weeks are when we are supposed to orient ourselves to the clinical setting and I’ve never had a semester here where I didn’t feel rushed into things” Brace says.

Thankfully, Bower extends her hand to the entire nursing program saying that all of them should “feel free to make an appointment with me if they would like to discuss further.”