Carson-Newman students gain real-life experience, new friendships
Carson-Newman Assistant Professor of Nursing Sharon McAnear, left, talks with students Erica Smith, center, and Tiffany Smallwood about quilts to be given to residents of the Jefferson County Nursing Home.
This fall Carson-Newman nursing students were given an opportunity to experience how classroom knowledge translated into a real-world setting. Members of the sophomore-level class were each assigned a patient at the Jefferson County Nursing Home as part of their first clinical experience.
A focus of the Fundamentals of Nursing class was on health care of the elderly. Students visited residents every other week, assisting them with such daily tasks as eating and taking medication. For the students, it was an opportunity to take what they had learned in the classroom and put it into action.
“This is a big jump for students,” said C-N’s Sharon McAnear, assistant professor of nursing. “These students have to go from the background knowledge that they have learned in their basic classes, to then using the information to provide care for (each) individual.”
During the semester students were able to get to know residents on a personal level. From this, according to McAnear, came an unplanned opportunity. “Once I mentioned to my mother-in-law, Anne, what the students were doing at the long-term care facility, she (told) me that she was interested in making lap quilts for the residents to have.”
Over time, 15 lap quilts were carefully stitched and given to the class. The students then had the opportunity to choose a quilt for a specific resident they had bonded with over the semester.
With the semester having come to a close, McAnear says she has been impressed with how her students responded. “I am really proud of the students for making this jump because it is a big commitment,” said McAnear. “I hope they have learned this semester how to safely practice beginning nursing skills in a way that is comfortable for the elderly person. Also, to think not just how do I technically do something, but how do I do this in a caring manner.”
For sophomore Erica Smith, that’s exactly what she says she learned. “It helped me gain a better understanding not just of the medical field, but caring for people in general,” she explained. “I think the heart of a nurse is caring for people. This experience helped us share the love of Christ through what we do and our actions.”