In socially distant groups of 12 people per hour, new students eagerly arrived on campus recently to check in, pick up supplies, and find the perfect fit for their N95 masks.
Among the materials for the incoming Graduate Entry Prespecialty in Nursing (GEPN) students is a handsome YSN duffel bag assembled under the direction of lecturer Sarah Korpak, MSN.Ed, MS, AG-ACNP-BC, RN-BC, CNE for her medical surgical nursing class, a clinical course.
“I wanted the nursing kits to include everything students need to take the classes at home on Zoom,” Korpak said. “We accomplished that, and I’m proud of that.”
“We are teaching a new generation of nurses during a pandemic. We have to adapt in real time and be creative in how we deliver critical knowledge and skills to our students.”
The duffels are stocked with catheters, a blood pressure cuff, demonstration medications, nasal gastric tubes, and assorted dressings and gauzes for wound care practice, plus other equipment. GEPNs also received their standard issue iPads and the welcome bags from the university that greet each scholar returning to campus, including a trio of blue cloth masks sporting the iconic Yale University letter Y in white on the side.
Acquiring an N95 mask was a more involved process than just picking up a package. Korpak and members of the Simulation team wore gowns, N95s, and the face shields produced in a partnership with Cisco earlier this summer. Bedecked in their personal protective equipment (PPE), a team member or Korpak placed a plastic contraption over the student’s head and sprayed a sweet, flavored solution inside the chamber. The mist simulates the airborne particulate of COVID-19, and if the wearer can taste sugar, the mask needs adjustment.
At the start of an academic year unlike any in the school’s nearly 100-year history, the incoming class showed a familiar enthusiasm.
“I’m really excited that our clinicals start so soon,” said Candace Gregg, a new GEPN from California in the family nurse practitioner specialty.
Leoncia Gillespie, an incoming GEPN hailing from North Carolina in the women’s health track was most looking forward to getting to know her new classmates. “I’ve heard so many great things about the students who come here,” she said. “And I’m pretty young; I know I’ll learn a lot from everyone else because they’re bringing in so much experience.”
Pediatric specialty GEPN Kaitlyn Roberts was a pro at the N95 mask fittings, having worked at a hospital at home outside of Boston before arriving in Connecticut. “I’m excited to finally be in classes,” she said, “and I’m interested in being able to start working with patients.”
Classes begin August 31.