TTU, CRMC kick off project to establish alumni mentors for nursing students

Building projects are underway for both Tennessee Tech University’s School of Nursing and Cookeville Regional Medical Center, but each one’s facilities aren’t all that’s growing — a mutually beneficial relationship is too.

The university and the hospital recently kicked off a grant-funded program that in the fall will help current nursing students learn the fundamental skills of bedside patient care from alumni who work as nurses at CRMC.

At a recent celebration luncheon, 14 TTU nursing alumni who’ve been on the job from one to five years signed on to serve as mentors for the project, which is funded by a $15,000 grant from the Promise of Nursing for the Tennessee Nursing School Grant Program and administered by the Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association.

“The ultimate goal of our building project is to double our admissions, but that’s not as simple as just accepting twice as many nursing majors as soon as the facility is complete,” said Sheila Green, director and interim dean of the School of Nursing at TTU.

“This project is a way to gradually build on the enrollment and the faculty we already have by using our alumni who are actually working in the field as nurse education extenders,” she continued.

While the academic and technical content of TTU’s nursing program will still be presented by its faculty, the alumni who’ve agreed to participate will demonstrate to groups of four to eight students each such skills as catheterizing patients and changing bandages and dressings — all in the actual hospital setting.

“Our purpose for this project is to go beyond the classroom training in helping students prepare for their first jobs,” Green said.
“We want to give our students an opportunity to learn from the working nurse, people in roles similar to those our graduates will fill when they go to work,” she said.

For a hospital that — like the university’s nursing program — is also growing, having the opportunity for its own nurses to guide the nurses of the future is a significant asset, Green said.

CRMC employees who helped coordinate the project were Michael Duke and Nancy Judd.

A portion of the grant money will also purchase high tech lab equipment, such as simulators to train vital sign and blood pressure readings, which will be housed in a lab at CRMC until the university facility is completed.

Strategic goal funding from the university provided the project’s recent kick-off luncheon.

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