ECPI University adds new features to prepare student nurses for COVID-19 frontlines

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week, Friday is National Student Nurse Day.

ROANOKE, Va. – As the pandemic continues ECPI University in Roanoke is doing all it can to prepare students for the coronavirus pandemic frontlines.

Hand washing and PPE protocols were already taught in classes, but it’s something faculty is stressing even more.

Classes are now virtual and instructors are honing in on respiratory assessments, knowing the signs and symptoms of respiratory distress and how to treat it.

This academic term, the university implemented a pandemic simulation where instructors are the patients students need to treat.

“They can go back and see the details that were missed, take corrective measures, go back and rerun that scenario and end up with a good result. And they may not be exposed to that particular situation out there in the real world so they’re learning in a safe environment," said Debbie Kemmerer, director of practical nursing education at the Roanoke university.

Another new addition, pandemic lectures.

Lectures were added to every class at the university so students can stay up to date, have an interactive conversation about what instructors and other students are seeing in the field, ask questions and feel comfortable sharing their personal stresses and fears.

As student nurses graduate they not only deal with the typical adjustment but the pressure of now being on the frontlines.

In April, 16 nursing students from ECPI University Roanoke graduated with a virtual pinning ceremony and in the middle of the term had to stop doing clinicals and finish classes virtually.

Bretinie Morelli, LPN, was one of those graduates and says this isn’t how she envisioned starting her career, but she felt and continues to feel confident and prepared. The biggest thing is applying everything she learned and the real-life experience faculty shared.

“Remembering all the proper techniques because those are really coming into play now and really just staying on top of things, ECPI the fast track kind of really prepares you for that and throwing things at you pretty quick and being able to learn, adjust and adapt.”

More student nurses graduate from ECPI in Roanoke in June and July.

For more on ECPI University, click here.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.