How UMC & Covenant are onboarding new nurses during the pandemic

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — COVID-19 cases are dipping slightly across the United States and in the Hub City. Even with the drop in cases, hospitals are still dealing with a shortage of health care workers.

Covenant Health and University Medical Center are working closely with nursing schools in the area to prepare the next generation of nurses.

The pandemic created obstacles for all academic programs, including nursing schools. South Plains College’s Dean Jerry Findley said the nursing school made changes, including temporarily going virtual.

“The facility really focuses on making sure that a student is job-ready,” Findley said. “It’s one thing to regurgitate material. It’s another thing to take care of a patient.”

Findley said UMC and Covenant Health have partnered with the nursing schools to make sure students are prepared to work in their field even after graduation.

UMC’s Director of Nurse Development, Hillary Phillips, said many incoming nurses were unable to have their full clinical hours due to COVID protocols.

“The first day they are with us we ask, ‘How was your clinical experience impacted by COVID,’” Phillips said. “And across the board, everybody felt like they had less clinical experience than nursing students in the past. So, we have adjusted their orientation times to accommodate that.”

Covenant’s Nursing Recruiter Terri Morris said it’s about coming together as a community to make a difference.

“It’s amazing to see all of our leaders. It’s not uncommon to see our CNO, our chief of medicine officer answer a call light, and that is what nursing is. It takes all of us to train our new nurses,” Morris said.

While these programs have evolved to ensure new and incoming students are fully trained and prepared to care for patients, Morris said it wouldn’t be possible without their existing staff who have been on the front-line’s day in and day out.

“We are fully blessed at Covenant that we have many nurses who have been with us for many, many years who have stayed with us,” Morris said.

Texas Tech’s Health Sciences Center’s Associate Professor Dr. Rebecca Gaist said incoming nursing students are asking more questions about the nursing program. There is more interest on how they prepare students to move from the classroom to the hospital.

“They really looked at our mission and want to know what we’re all about. I think that’s very admirable,” Gaist said.

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