COVID-19 Statement for Nursing Students
- Author: Dr. Mary Bennett | Director of the School of Nursing & Allied Health
- Author: Wednesday, March 18th, 2020
For students and parents concerned about WKU Nursing Student Skills Labs and Clinical Placements during the COVID-19 outbreak:
This situation is changing daily with different hospitals having different responses, but this is our general plan for now.
First- I want to assure you that the safety of our students is a priority in this rapidly changing situation. All of our students that are still allowed to go to clinical sites will be required to follow the guidelines set forth by the sites and guidelines created by professional associations or accrediting bodies, such as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. These new guidelines for dealing with COVID-19 and nursing student clinical placements have been sent to all nursing faculty and clinical sites. Nursing students, after receiving appropriate education and training, are regularly involved in the care of patients with communicable diseases like influenza, measles, TB, Hepatitis, and HIV.
However, due to the current situation, no WKU nursing student will be assigned to care for known or suspected cases of COVID-19 or ANY type of infectious disease. For now, students may assist nursing personnel with other functions, to include non-patient care activities, to allow the nursing staff more time to spend with patient who may have some type of infectious disease. If a student is asked to care for a patient that they do not feel prepared to care for, they are to let their faculty know at once and the nursing faculty will ensure they are reassigned to a patient that they can adequately care for.
Illness: Faculty, students, and staff who are ill or have any symptoms of any type of illness (flu, cold or COVID-19) symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) need to stay home and avoid contact with others. No student should ever go to a clinical site if they are sick.
If a student has a special reason to be at increased risk due to a medical condition they can either do a medical withdrawal for the semester, or if they have completed more than half of the clinical hours, they can do an incomplete for clinical and/or lab course for this semester. The missing hours will have to be made up prior to proceeding to the next part of the nursing curriculum. This will be handled on a case by case basis and we will require documentation from your primary care provider as to when it is safe for you to return to the clinical setting. After that time, you will need to arrange with your faculty to make up any missing lab and/or clinical hours prior to proceeding to the next semester’s classes.
Any student who is unable to complete their clinical and/or lab hours this semester due to a facility not allowing students to enter or the university not allowing students to go to clincials will be given an incomplete also. We will work with all students to ensure that they meet the minimun learning requirements so that they can either graduate, or so they can enroll in the next semester of the nursing program, but this is likely going to involve summer sessions for those who are unable to complete clinical and/or labs this semester. Once the missing hours are completed, the incomplete will be changed to a grade.
Currently hospitals are making contingency plans to deal with high volumes of patients. Some of these plans include use of nursing students in auxiliary roles as runners, to answer phones, to collect supplies for staff, or to monitor waiting areas, which will allow regular nursing staff to concentrate on patient care. As long as the clinical facilities feel that students can be useful in this situation, we plan to continue to allow students to be part of the health care response team.
If you have questions or concerns about your particular situation, please contact your faculty member using the contact information included on your class syllabus. The school of nursing general phone number is 270-745-3391, which is being forward to a staff member. The staff can forward your calls, but the people most likely to know the answers concerning your individual situations are your faculty members.