“History has provided us with many examples of nurses’ contributions to mankind. But what sets us apart as a recognized profession?” asks Karen Novak, Director of Health Services. “Tradition! Florence Nightingale was a change agent and seemed to do it without compromise; leadership techniques and advocacy were many of her strong points. It is important to have these traits to
provide nursing students with the tools necessary to promote health.”
The tradition of nursing care is alive and passionate at Plymouth Harbor. Suncoast Technical College’s (STC) Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program partnered with Plymouth Harbor’s Smith Care Center (SCC) years ago, but somehow that tradition fell through the cracks. Dedicated leadership at Plymouth Harbor decided to get things back on track, and the revival of the tradition resumed in November 2016.
STC’s LPN program is a one-year program where students gain both classroom and real-world experience — completing six months in a “freshman” course and their second six months in an advanced course. As a result, half of their time is spent honing skills in the classroom, while the other half is spent completing student clinicals at numerous healthcare sites, including Plymouth Harbor.
According to Clinical Instructor Michelle Boudreaux, there are three clinical instructors. Students rotate between healthcare facilities, allowing them to work in different environments with different instructors. Boudreaux notes that while the maximum number of students allowed by law in a class is 12, STC limits theirs to seven, ultimately providing a much more in-depth, hands-on experience.
By working in environments such as Plymouth Harbor, students are able to learn delegation, management, and can witness first-hand how facilities function as a team. At the end of each clinical rotation, students are asked to provide a “head-to-toe” assessment to their instructor, along with a Medicare note and patient history. Additionally, the students conduct a daily “post-conference” in which they discuss items that came up and how they solved them. Under supervision, students are able to perform general patient care and some skills such as IVs, dressing changes, vital signs, and patient assessments.
To succeed in nursing, a strong and broad foundation must be laid to build upon. SCC’s tenured nurses are all too happy to contribute to building this foundation, seeing these novice nursing students bloom right before their eyes. For some SCC nurses, it is a completion of the circle they started many years ago, as they, too, were in the shoes of the students not so long ago. SCC LPN, and STC graduate, Manny Flores remembers it well, and now facilitates the growth of many students as they learn.
“To touch the life of a student and give them wings to grow is our goal here at Plymouth Harbor,” Karen says. “Who knows, you might find them one day in our healthcare center taking care of you!”