‘Going Past Textbooks and into the Real World’

WARE — It may not be a college town, but more than 12 nursing students from area colleges are learning a great deal about nursing in a rural community setting.

Area nursing college students are gaining this fresh perspective on rural community-health care as they work for both Baystate Mary Lane Hospital and the Ware-based office of the Baystate Visiting Nurse Assoc. and Hospice.

“This year we are happy to have seven nursing students from Becker College working in a number of departments at the hospital,” said Morgan Gilmore, nurse educator at BMLH. “The students are in their junior year, and for them, being here provides a better understanding of just what is involved in working in the health care field.”

The students are working on the hospital’s nursing units, including Med/Surg, ICU, and Surgical Services.

“All of the students are gaining a fresh perspective on working in a community-hospital setting,” said Gilmore. “It allows their experience to go past textbooks into the real world. They experience the need to schedule their patient care time, and to prioritize care and the flow of real patient care.”

“Our nurses are given the opportunity to share their knowledge and help the next generation of nursing professionals,” said Gilmore. “The nursing staff has been very positive about their role as educators. I have received great feedback and have continued to shape the student experience based on the observations of our nurses.”

Roxanna Harper, clinical manager of Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice (BVNAH) in Ware, said her agency has recently expanded its nursing student internship opportunities. “In addition to our relationship with the University of Massachusetts, this year we now have nursing students from Worcester State College doing their clinical rotation with us.”

The nursing students work directly with a member of the nursing team who has agreed to serve as a preceptor to the students, said Harper. Their primary role is to learn what a visiting nurse does for patients in the home.

“What we at the BVNAH have learned throughout these relationships with area schools is that there are a lot of great students who have the potential for being great nurses, right here in our own backyard,” she said.

“My hope for these nursing students is that they gain knowledge on the nursing profession, in particular the vital role visiting nurses play in the overall health of the community.”

Baystate Mary Lane Hospital is a 31-bed, community-based hospital serving the residents of Hampshire, Hampden, and Worcester counties.

The hospital offers a wide spectrum of services from women’s health, maternity, and pediatrics to inpatient and outpatient surgical care, intensive care, and 24-hour emergency services. Ancillary services include Radiology, Cardio-pulmonary, Laboratory, and the Baystate Rehabilita-tion Program.

In addition, the hospital’s outpatient services include physician specialty clinics, occupational health, and an adult day health program.

Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice (BVNAH) is a comprehensive home health care agency committed to providing the highest quality care to patients and families, primarily in the home setting. It meets individual needs by bringing experienced nurses, rehabilitation therapists, social workers, and home care aides to patients’ homes.