Nursing students provide helping hand at Baptist Health Hardin
Published on Nov 18, 2021
When a surge of COVID-19 cases hit in August, Baptist Health Hardin (BHH) called on Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) nursing students to lend a helping hand. Third-semester nursing students Alina Fulk, Kelsey Sullivan, Madisen Campbell and Rachel Wardrip said it was a call they were happy to answer.
“When we got pulled in to help with the surge, it made me feel like I could do something to help,” said Fulk. “Whether it’s passing trays, changing beds, blood sugar checks or just being with patients to hold their hand because they can’t have any family in the room, I'm glad we got called in. Being there provides nurses the extra help they need to get to all of their patients, especially with the extra time it takes to follow safety protocols from room to room.”
Fulk along with Sullivan are both fully funded Baptist Health Hardin students, meaning they are employees of BHH while they are in nursing school, receiving tuition assistance and a pathway to employment upon graduation.
“I wanted to be a nurse for a long time, but life and kids happen so financially it just wasn’t possible. If it wasn’t for the fully funded program, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” said Fulk. “The people at BHH are all involved and set you up for success to help you get where you need to go and the get the experience you need.”
Sullivan added that the staff at BHH have been invaluable to her nursing school experience.
“I can’t say enough good things about the partnership ECTC has with BHH. They understand we’re in nursing school so if we need something extra or we’re swamped with our studies they do their best to accommodate those needs,” said Sullivan. “They’re all really supportive. If they know you’re a nursing student they’ll pull you in to see procedures and things you’ll see in the coming semesters so we can connect to that when we get to that content.”
ECTC Nursing Program Director Sandra Marques said BHH is a vital partnership to train students and provide a quality education.
“It means so much for BHH to trust that our students are being trained as professionals with the foresight to utilize them not as just nursing students, but as nurses in training,” said Marques. “This experience lets the students understand the meaning of autonomy, and just how valuable they are to the community.”
Wardrip echoes that the partnership with BHH and the experience they gain there makes ECTC’s nursing program unique.
“Other colleges and nursing schools don’t always require clinical hours so their students aren’t working with real patients until they’ve graduated,” said Wardrip. “We’re pretty blessed that Baptist is not only allowing us to still come in for clinicals during COVID but encouraging us to come in and use us in other ways.”
When asked about their motivation for continuing their nursing education despite the pandemic, they all agreed that there’s nothing else they could imagine doing.
“It’s a risk we’re willing to take and one we signed up for even though we were on the path to nursing school even before the pandemic,” said Wardrip. “I believe nursing is what I was created to do. As healthcare is changing, if we aren’t there to go in, who is going to take care of my parents or my family? I’ll do it, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
Wardrip also said the partnership and using nursing students to help with shortage in the hospitals just makes sense.
“We’re fortunate to have been able to see the things we’ve seen although it’s come at a great risk to so many,” Wardrip said. “It makes sense to put us in there and let us see it, so it’s not going to be brand new when we graduate and get out there. We’re going to know what to do.”
Campbell added that although the pandemic has cost so many so much, the students are grateful for the way ECTC and BHH have worked together to ensure the nursing students are getting the education they need.
“Being called in to help with the surge is allowing us to see more things. I got called into the ICU which isn’t normal for students and I've gotten to see a higher level of critical care,” said Campbell. “Our program has made a lot of changes to accommodate COVID protocol and we’ve continued clinicals because Baptist understands how important it is to have a hand in training their potential future employees.”
These third semester nursing students began their cohort Fall 2020 and are the first class at ECTC to have their entire nursing school education under the COVID-19 pandemic. All four students agree that their education wouldn’t be the same without the support and guidance of their instructors.
“A lot of our instructors are working or have worked at the hospital and they’re super supportive and know how things work there which makes things smoother,” said Fulk. “They know what we’re doing because they’ve been there and done it.”
Just as nursing instructors will continue teaching their students essential technical and patient care skills; the students say they will continue to answer the call when help is needed because they want to continue taking care of people and providing the best care possible.