Clinical Program Faculty Strive to Maintain Placements, Safety

Jessica Oltman, Reporter

The pandemic is complicating health science students’ clinical studies, but faculty are trying to maintain a sense of normalcy.

Nicole Evanosky, Assistant Professor or Physical Therapy and Director of Clinical Education, and Heather Fritz, Assistant Professor or Physical Therapy and Assistant Director of  Clinical education, said they and other faculty are working hard to continue to provide quality clinical experiences.

One of the biggest challenges is finding clinical placements for students, Evanosky said.

“Clinical experiences that were previously confirmed for students fell through and alternate locations had to be secured.  We have been working individually with students and clinical partners to be creative and flexible to meet the needs of everyone involved,” she said.

Fritz said both students and faculty are more focused on working together than ever.

“We are trying to take things one step at a time,” she said. “Information and situations evolve daily. While it’s easy to get overwhelmed, we’ve been working hard to keep students informed and engaged. We certainly can’t predict how things will progress this year, but we’ll work together to do the best we can for our students and clinical partners.”

Shelby Hastings, junior nursing major, said she hasn’t noticed too many differences in clinical operations thanks to the faculty’s dedication.

“The main difference between clinical this year and in the past is that we have to wear masks, and we are not allowed to be in the same room or near any isolation patients, but other than that its not that different,” she said.

Her placement is on the medical surgery floor at Geisinger in Wyoming Valley. Working in a hospital setting during the pandemic gives her a sense of comfort, she said.

“Since I am in a hospital, I feel it is still very safe. They are very strict about the restrictions and are focused on keeping us all safe,” Hastings said.

She said another factor that has contributed to her sense of safety is the clinical faculty’s care.

“They have done a good job with working through the challenges this semester brought and they have been very organized,” she said.