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Student Placements in Primary Care Settings to Support Student Learning and Improve Outcomes in the Veteran Population



Credits: None available.

Purpose: The primary care setting is a care area that requires a unique skillset. While the AAACN has long supported teaching primary care concepts in undergraduate nursing school curricula and many schools of nursing have incorporated primary care settings into undergraduate clinical rotations, there are still barriers to having nursing students in such a specialized setting (Wojnar, & Whelan, 2017). Students and faculty may view placements in primary care as “less than” or not beneficial to their overall learning, RNs may view students as a burden, and faculty can find supervision of students in this setting challenging (Bos, Silén, & Kaila, 2015; Wojnar, & Whelan, 2017). The purpose of this poster presentation is to highlight the benefit of having students in primary care settings, not only for the students, but for primary care staff and patients, to support the inclusion of clinical placements in the primary care setting during undergraduate nursing programs.
Description: Faculty in a VA nursing academic partnership (VANAP) worked with students and primary clinic staff to support students during clinical rotations at primary care clinics. In addition to understanding patient care delivery in these settings, students worked on population health projects to improve health outcomes for the veteran population. These projects engage students and RNs in thinking about the unique care needs of this population and how nurses can play an active role in improving care delivery. Over the last several years, students have worked on a variety of projects including updating diabetic patient education, assessing patient barriers to cervical cancer screening, providing patient reminders for colorectal cancer screenings, and providing patient information for self-referrals to mental health services.
Outcome: Students have learned the specialized skills needed to care for veterans in the primary care and the unique care needs of this population. They have gained an appreciation for the complexity of the work and role of the RN in this setting and have learned skills such as communication, interdisciplinary collaboration, and care coordination that they can apply to any setting. Students also have high levels of satisfaction in contributing to meaningful and sustainable projects that improve patient outcomes for the veteran population. RN and clinic managers have found student involvement in these settings to also be beneficial. Students are seen as a resource in participating in ongoing quality improvement initiatives and RNs have high satisfaction in working with undergraduate nursing students. From participation in these clinical rotations, some students have decided to purpose further opportunities in primary care.
Conclusions: By placing students in primary care settings and including them in meaningful ways on population health projects, students can learn key primary care concepts while contributing to improving patient outcomes. RNs can also see the tangible benefit of having students in clinics because of the contributions they make on these projects. This model can help the continued training of undergraduate nursing students in the primary care setting by addressing perceived barriers.

Credits

Credits: None available.