At Rutgers Universitys College of Nursing, Newark, N.J., students begin their clinical experiences at the start of their junior year. For many students, it is the first time they have interacted with a “real, live” patient. The experience can be exciting, overwhelming and nerve-racking.
The Educational Opportunity Fund program at Rutgers offers a Pre-Junior Clinical program that helps students ease their anxiety and makes them feel more confident as they enter their clinical experience.
Pre-Junior Clinical takes place in the summer before the students junior year. The course covers dosage and calculation, assessments and patient interaction at a hospital near campus. The first three weeks consist of theory sessions conducted by an APN. The second three weeks allow students to apply what they have learned at the hospital under the supervision of a clinical instructor.
“The EOF is extremely beneficial in assisting the qualified student in achieving academic success,” said Susan Maiocco, RN, MSN, APN, theory instructor. “The participating students were prepared for their first clinical nursing course. Now in their mid-junior semester, I have had opportunities to speak to some of the program participants. They felt they were prepared and are succeeding in their courses. For the most part, they were a step ahead of the other classmates who were not part of the program.”
Maiocco said students who took part in the program found it beneficial, despite having to give up some summer activities.
“After they completed the program, many of them remarked it was to their benefit to give up part of their summer — even though at the time, it was especially hard when they saw their peers enjoying themselves with trips to the beach,” she said.
Maiocco said the program helped her strengthen the students educational experiences. “I was motivated and eager to teach in the EOF program,” she said. “I knew this would be challenging. The participating students were true neophytes to clinical nursing. I shared my nursing experiences with them. I hoped that I would be able to mold them into practicing nursing as it should be practiced, and that this would be reinforced during their junior and senior years.” •
Valerie Smith Stephens is assistant dean, Educational Fund Opportunity program, at Rutgers Universitys College of Nursing.