As people across the country adapt to social distancing and work-from-home measures due to COVID-19, the importance of telecommunications has never been more critical – especially in the realm of health care. Fortunately, the University of Arizona College of Nursing already has a robust telehealth certificate program geared around its Family Nurse Practitioner program, and it’s working to aid both our faculty and students during this challenging time.
UArizona Nursing faculty are creating innovative education for students that don’t place them at risk, while at the same time providing exceptional learning opportunities. One notable example is the College’s partnership with Casa Alitas, a program run by Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, Inc. that offers short-term shelter to migrants on the beginning stages of their immigration journey. This semester, students began performing well-child assessments on migrant children at the facility with the goal of preparing them to start school when they reach their sponsor’s home city. Clinical Assistant Professor Audrey Russell-Kibble, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP was supervising rotations for DNP-FNP students – who would be able to earn their full 90 pediatric clinical hours – when the COVID-19 crisis hit. It quickly became clear that for the safety of students and faculty, as well as the migrants, the clinical hours would need to be moved online.
"This is my first exposure to conducting medical screenings via telehealth, and it was an incredible experience. Since I have already completed in-person clinical time at Casa Alitas for the semester, being able to apply a telehealth approach to clinical care, really brought my clinical experience to another level," ~ Adriana Warne, UArizona Nursing DNP-FNP student
Adriana Warne, a student who had already completed 32 of her clinical hours at Casa Alitas and is focusing her DNP project on developing a Migrant Well-Child Health Toolkit for the program, worked with Dr. Russell-Kibble to prepare for the transition to telehealth screenings. Warne began by translating the Casa Alitas Medical Screening Tool into the Spanish language so she would be ready for her first remote wellness check. Working with an intake person to aid in interviewing the first family – a mother from Guatemala and her four children – Warne interfaced with an interpreter to successfully complete the screening. “The intake person gave Adriana high marks for her respectful and culturally competent gentle manner with the migrant mother and her family,” Dr. Russell-Kibble said.
“This is my first exposure to conducting medical screenings via telehealth, and it was an incredible experience,” said Warne, noting that utilizing telehealth technology is valuable more than ever as students learn how to adapt to assess patients and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Since I have already completed in-person clinical time at Casa Alitas for the semester, being able to apply a telehealth approach to clinical care, really brought my clinical experience to another level.”
“Many students are limited to the number of clinical hours we can complete in an actual clinical setting this semester due to this pandemic,” said Warne, pointing out this is the ideal time for students to learn how to navigate telehealth technology and reach people in a clinic setting. “This opportunity allowed me to utilize what I have learned thus far in my didactic coursework about telemedicine and cultural competency. I also applied what I have learned in my clinical work by exercising my clinical judgment without being physically present with the family.”
During her first family screening, Warne built a rapport with the family while providing culturally competent care by working with two interpreters, one who spoke Mam (an indigenous Mayan language) and one who was bilingual in English/Spanish languages. The Mam language interpreter was present at the visit by telephone, but the migrant woman was able to see Warne face-to-face on an iPad furnished by UArizona Nursing. “I know that this experience will enhance my DNP project, and I can’t thank Casa Alitas and the UA CON enough for this unique opportunity to apply this innovative approach to clinical care,” said Warne. “Hopefully, more students will have the opportunity to use telehealth technology during this time, because I have a feeling that once everything settles with Covid-19, telemedicine is going to grow exponentially and become a more common approach to clinical practice.”
“This is an excellent example of the College of Nursing overcoming barriers to clinical education during this time of crisis,” said Clinical Associate Professor and Interim Director DNP Program, Allen Prettyman, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, FNAP.