Hospital shows interns the ropes

Published 1:03 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012

UWA nursing students intern at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. From left: Shirnice Amerson, Donna Cleveland, Kojo Sarfo, Kristie Roberts, Ashley Stokes, Amanda Smith, Courtney Howe, Tammy Conley and their instructor, Lynn Lashley.

Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital hosts nursing students from several colleges around the state of Alabama each semester to help them meet their graduation requirements.

Teresa Ford, who is in charge of patient education and staff development, heads the internship program. She has been a nurse at BWWMH since 1995.

The program started in the early 1970s, and has been going strong ever since.

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“We get students from all over the state at three different levels of their nursing education,” Ford said.

Ford said that they see students for the last three semesters of school, and the students go through three different levels of nursing. The first level is basic care, in which students learn the basics of being a nurse, including bedside care. They work two days a week for 10 hours each day.

Second level students work with child deliveries, surgeries and also can start IVs and give medicine to patients.

Third level students are the closest to graduation and this semester serves as their preceptorship. These students work more on their own and can care for patients without an instructor being with them.

Ford said that working in a smaller hospital gives students a better idea of how to work with patients.

“The smaller environment offers students the opportunity to experience more patient-centered care,” Ford said. “There is more time to get to know the patients than at a bigger hospital.”

Shelton State, Wallace Community College, Alabama Southern, Auburn University-Montgomery, Troy, UAB and South Alabama are the schools that participate in the internship program at BWWMH.

“It’s good for us to see what the different schools are doing with their programs,” Ford said. “We have contracts with all of the schools at the beginning of each year.

Demopolis High School also offers a class to juniors and seniors called Healthcare Studies that teaches the students about the healthcare industry. They meet at the hospital every morning for about an hour during the class.

Ford said that being a nurse gives so many opportunities, and in recent years, there have been more students that are coming into nursing.