First-Year MEPN Students Complete Hands-On Labs, Thanks to Faculty Support, Modifications

University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science nursing students are preparing to enter a world that needs them now more than ever.  After months of hard work and preparation from faculty, USD first-year Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) students were able to learn on campus in a limited capacity this past fall semester, as of September 7, to complete their required lab training while following the necessary COVID-19 guidelines.

There was an incredible amount of planning and preparation done by the MEPN leadership team to ensure the safety of everyone involved. In order to stay within the state, county and university’s COVID-19 guidelines, MEPN nursing students were assigned to groups of six students and one instructor. Students were required to maintain a 6-foot physical distance, wear a mask, clean their environment and complete a daily temperature and symptom screening. Each group was also assigned a separate entrance, bathroom and lunch break from other student groups.

Hands-on training is an absolute necessity for nursing students as they are dealing with the most intricate and advanced system in the world: the human body. During their lab work, nursing students used mannequins to learn how to give a patient a basic head-to-toe assessment while also understanding nursing fundamentals like giving a patient medication or an IV.

Dr. Deanna Johnston, MEPN simulation coordinator, expressed the importance of hands-on training. “Without training in a lab for those aspects and those hands-on skills, when they do it on a real patient for the first time it’s really nerve-wracking and scary. So we give them a lot of practice here so that when they get out with their patients, they feel more confident and comfortable in doing those skills.”

First-year MEPN student Paulina Escobedo has always aspired to be a nurse. She said that working on mannequins is an opportunity to apply what she has learned in her lectures and see what it's like with a “real” patient. “This is something you’re going to be doing as a profession for the rest of your life, so you want to be able to get hands-on experiences and practice even if it's with a mannequin right now.” 

For first-year MEPNs, this is their first experience in a lab as a nursing student. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, students like Annalise Schlafer found the transition to be relatively smooth. “It’s really been fluid and been able to teach us as students how to be fluid and work in a hospital,” said Schlafer.

Students and instructors were equally excited and grateful for the opportunity to be in-person and on-campus during their assigned days and times. The care and responsibility taken during this transition is a testament to the University of San Diego’s dedication to its students. “It is so wonderful to see their faces and to get them excited to be in school. To have students be able to be positive, to move forward, and just to be so excited to be back has been really wonderful for all of us,” said Johnston.

— Nicholas Stineman


Elena Gomez
(619) 260-2739