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March 10, 2022

Nursing students speed into Motor City

One word could sum up the first time William Brede helped his MSU College of Nursing classmates perform COVID-19 screenings for children at Mason Academy: chaotic.  

Keeping hundreds of Detroit Public Schools elementary and middle school children orderly while collecting saliva samples as part of COVID-19 screenings proved overwhelming and, that day, the nursing students only made it through fourth grade.  

Not to be deterred, Brede and his classmates were back at it not too long after and, through order and discipline, finished the screenings ahead of schedule. Brede said while challenging, he appreciated the opportunity.  

“It’s a real eye-opener to the diverse opportunities that exist within nursing and how various specializations will often overlap,” Brede said. “In the school setting, there is one-part public health and one-part pediatrics, with a great deal of education and health promotion. All of this requires great communication skills. With the COVID testing, we got a chance to put nursing interventions into action and measure their effectiveness in real time, which is a critical skill for all nurses.” 

Brede’s experience is just one of many nursing students are getting this semester as the college ramps up its presence in Michigan’s largest city.

This spring, the college started two new partnerships, one with Luke Clinic, an organization that provides easily accessible and affordable resources to pregnant women, new mothers and infants in Detroit; and Mason Academy. In addition, the college, once again, has a cohort of accelerated BSN students based in Detroit. And this past January marked the first anniversary of the new 30-year partnership between MSU and Henry Ford Health System.  

“I want our students to understand the language of community engagement,” said Rhonda Conner-Warren, an assistant professor and organizer of the Luke Clinic and DPS opportunities. “I want them to do important things to support our partners’ goals and strengthen communities. The hope is that students will feel how much their skills mean to these communities, many of which might be different from those in which they grew up.”  

At the Luke Clinic, students have been going through eight stations, covering many elements of care, including having assisted with ultrasounds, occupational therapy and administrative services. 

“At the Luke Clinic, staff are committed to understanding the barriers to accessing care and addressing them one by one,” said Penny Armbruster, executive director of the Luke Clinic. “Their desire is to educate young medical professionals to learn to ‘see’ non-compliant patients in a different light and to recognize and understand the implicit struggle of accessing care for themselves and their families. “ 

Nicole Horton said the experience has allowed her to interact with a variety of different patients.  

“I was able to see many barriers that may affect women during pregnancy such as transportation issues, language barriers, hard times making appointments, trouble finding childcare and affording clothes and diapers,” said Horton, a senior nursing student. “This will help me in my practice because I see first hand that while patients may have problems, they do not openly discuss them, so it is important to ask questions and to try to offer as much help as possible.” 

The college is also looking to resume its student recruitment efforts in DPS, specifically at Benjamin Carson High School of Science & Medicine. Through the Achieving Culturally Competent Education and Student Success Program, which is housed at the college, the partnership began in 2017 and was put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic but hopes to relaunch in Fall of 2022. The partnership gives high-achieving high school students the opportunity to earn conditional admission into the college straight out of school. 

In addition to these new initiatives, the university is starting to see movement on the Henry Ford Health + Michigan State University Health Sciences initiative. At this point, the College of Nursing and Henry Ford Health System are collaboratively moving the following efforts forward:  

  • Expanding evidence-based best healthcare practices 

  • Forging ahead to build nursing science that will identify the most effective nursing interventions  

  • Working together to build Michigan’s future nursing workforce 

  • Increasing the number of clinical placements for MSU undergraduate and graduate nursing students 

  • Strengthening collaborative efforts to improve patient care and health outcomes through evidence-based practice, quality improvement initiatives, and research endeavors 

  • Cross agency committee service to strengthen a shared understanding of culture and processes that will contribute to efficiencies and effectiveness of future initiatives 

  • Focused collaborative attention to the health of communities; especially those who are underserved, historically marginalized and/or suffer with health disparities as a result of social determinants of health 

  • Increasing professional nursing development opportunities/lifelong learning 

The college has a partnership with Detroit Medical Center, where it has annually welcomed a cohort of Accelerated BSN students since 2015. The recent partnership of MSU College of Nursing and Henry Ford Health System has supported the plan to double the cohort size in Detroit in 2023. This expansion of the MSU nursing program cohort will help to ease the critical shortage of nurses. The MSU nursing students will continue to their training in many clinical and community settings across the city and metro area to learn how to meet the healthcare needs of its members.  

“Our goal is to further embed our nursing students from the area in their own community as they tend to stay and work there, post-graduation,” said Kathleen Poindexter, interim associate dean for Academic Affairs. “We’re placing an emphasis on increasing diversity to mirror the populations we serve.” 

Isabel Measzros has appreciated the opportunity to participate in delivering health care in Detroit. Measzros has been assisting with COVID-19 testing as well as with treating children at Mason Academy with chronic conditions, like asthma and diabetes.  

“A lot of what we have been doing has just been educating the students on the tests, how they work, what they test for and why we are doing the tests. It's also just been a lot of important education on hand washing, how to stop the spread of COVID and management of other childhood health care conditions,” said Measzros, a senior nursing student. “This placement has taught me the importance of community education.” 

This story was originally featured on the College of Nursing website.

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