Bakersfield College has expanded its support to the community with third semester nursing students working as COVID-19 screeners.
Sixteen additional BC nursing students started at Bakersfield Heart Hospital last week. Nursing students will be checking patients and family members for symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The screening process helps prevent the spread of the virus by catching cases early.
“I’m proud of our nursing program at Bakersfield College and the readiness of our students to answer the call from Gov. Newsom,” said President Sonya Christian in a news release. “By completing their education and clinical hours during this pandemic, our nursing students will be able to gain invaluable skills they can bring forward with them throughout the rest of their careers.”
Fourth semester nursing students have already stepped up to serve in an externship capacity at Kern Medical, Dignity Healthcare Systems and Bakersfield Heart Hospitals. BC nursing classified staff and their families have also pitched in to help with the pandemic response effort by crafting personal protective equipment such as cloth face masks and caps. They have distributed more than 170 masks to students and faculty working in clinical settings.
Anticipating the increased need for health care support during the pandemic, Carla Gard, associate dean of nursing at Bakersfield College, started coordinating the externship program for fourth-semester students with local health care partners back in early March. These 69 nursing students are currently working in paid positions and have been paired with experienced nurses, completing their program and preparing to enter the workforce.
Bakersfield College has a two-year nursing program, with distinct requirements for clinical hours. Third-semester students must complete 135 clinic hours, 75 percent of which must be spent in direct patient care. Working as screeners will help the students meet their requirements while serving a vital role during this crisis.
“We’re pleased to have the support of these nursing students to conduct novel coronavirus screenings for our patients,” said Carol Ann Stiltner, chief nurse executive at Bakersfield Heart Hospital. “The additional help with screenings will free up our staff and allow us to provide high-quality patient care to our community.”