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Bethel-NMC partnership lets nursing students practice skills

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – After hours of reading, listening to lectures and taking tests, Bethel nursing students relish the opportunity to practice their skills outside of the classroom. Bethel’s new Shadow-a-Nurse program, developed through a partnership with Newton Medical Center, gives seniors just this opportunity.

“We spend a lot of time in class and studying textbooks,” says Laura Aronis, Wichita, “but any opportunity to practice those skills, apply the knowledge and see it all in action is always helpful.”

Through the shadowing program, students are able to see nurses put their skills into action. Seniors choose a unit and a shift, which they may or may not have experienced through regular clinical rotations, and shadow a nurse in that area for an eight-hour period.

“Any nursing program has a prescribed number of clinical activities that students must complete prior to graduation,” says Phyllis Miller, Bethel College interim director of nursing. “We wanted to give our students an opportunity to have a clinical experience uniquely focused in their area of interest and see firsthand the role of the registered nurse in a community hospital and how the nurse cares effectively for a group of patients.”

Students select all sorts of nursing areas within the Newton hospital, from ICU to surgery to labor and delivery.

Brittany Scogin, Derby, chose the emergency room (ER). “Because of the size of our nursing class and the other nursing schools, ER time can be limited,” Scogin explains. “Right now, for our class, most people only get to have one day in the ER at St. Francis, which is where we are for regularly scheduled clinicals.

“I wanted to get more experience in this field, to see if it was an area that really interested me for a career.”

In addition to checking out career options, other students were interested in refreshing their knowledge in the area in which they will be working. For example, Lindsey Oliver, McPherson, who will be working in labor and delivery, wanted some more experience in that area because it had been a while since she had studied it in class.

Aronis had a different reason for choosing labor and delivery. Having already experienced the area on a large, busy unit at Wesley, she was interested in what it would look like in Newton. “I wanted to see how [labor and delivery] differed at a smaller, more rural hospital,” she says.

Aronis notes that while “many of the skills we learn are going to be performed the same from hospital to hospital, the difference in environment can have a big impact on both the patients and the nurses. The lower volume of patients at Newton Medical seemed to allow more one-on-one care, especially during the postpartum phase when mom, dad and baby all need rest as well as help transitioning into their new lives together.”

In addition, Oliver comments, “Smaller hospital nurses seem to have more responsibility than the larger hospital nurses.”

The Shadow-a-Nurse program also reinforces skills taught. Scogin says it was good to see how ER nurses must prioritize and manage time. “Since prioritizing is a huge part of nursing care and critical care,” she says, “this rotation was very helpful and helped me gain a better understanding of how to manage time.”

Scogin, Oliver and Aronis all express appreciation for the program.

“It gives us the choice to experience different settings that we may feel we are lacking experience in or just would like to experience more,” says Scogin. “More than anything, it gives us more time with patients and staff [to] build up our confidence.”

“With a great hospital right here in [Newton],” adds Aronis, “there are many opportunities for Bethel nursing students to learn and practice our skills and it exposes us to a facility that many of us may enjoy working at when we graduate but probably wouldn’t have considered otherwise.”

Oliver liked having the opportunity to choose the unit and shift she wanted to shadow. Many students chose the night shift, which they do not experience during clinical rotations.

This also works out well for hospital staff, who usually don’t see students on evening or night shifts. Jeff Barton, Newton Medical Center’s vice president for patient services, explains, “Our evening, night and weekend staff like the opportunity to have students around on their shifts for a change.”

Miller notes that having a strong partnership with area health-care facilities is important to the nursing department, adding, “Bethel College and Newton Medical Center share a rich piece of history, with the beginnings of Bethel’s nursing program occurring with the establishment of the nursing program at Bethel Deaconess Hospital, one of the founding institutions of Newton Medical Center.

“We are exploring ways of working cooperatively together and the Shadow-A-Nurse program is one of those initiatives.”

So far, Miller says student response has been very positive. “They have enjoyed their experiences at Newton Medical Center and have found it to be a valuable one as they look to graduation.”

In addition to the nursing experience, Scogin appreciates the way the hospital staff welcomed her. “I can’t say enough about the staff there,” she says. “It is important to have a welcoming staff that really allows students to be active in the care for the patients. That is what, I feel, made the day for me.”

Other senior nursing students completing the Shadow-a-Nurse program are Frederick Agbomanyi, Wichita; Carrie Ashford, Newton; Michelle Baldwin, Marion; Marla Bell, Wichita; Luz Bragg, Wichita; Marissa Branson, Wichita; Nadia Dayo, Wichita; Shana Eaves, Hutchinson; Lindsey Elder, McPherson; Peni Ens, Hillsboro; Rodney Freeland, North Newton; Munna Godfrey, Wichita; Brittany Wiens Goertzen, Hutchinson; Cane Griffiths, Newton; Trista Hanley, Bel Aire; Eleazar Harelimana, Wichita; Manuel Hernandez, Wichita; Katie Hougham, Burrton; Amy Hulse, Peabody; Daami Izu, Wichita; Salma Juma, Wichita; Michael Kagiri, Wichita; Violet Karani, Wichita; Lynnet Maidhi, Wichita; Matthew Meehan, Abilene; Amanda Mindrup, Newton; John Muchina, Newton; Nicholas Mwangi, Bel Aire; Punyawati Neupane, Wichita; Jane Njagi, Wichita; Justin Novinger, Wichita; Nnenna Olugu, Wichita; Fridah Orina, Wichita; Brandi Peterie-Shipman, Florence; Leslie Poelstra, Derby; Sunita Pudasaini, Newton; Holly Ralstin, Wichita; Breanna Sauerwein, Newton; Monica Seidl, Wichita; Wendy Shumard, Wichita; Kristin Sorensen; Jacy Suttlemyre, Salt Lake City; Esther Waitherero, Wichita; Amanda Watts, Wichita; and David Young, McPherson.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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