CCC students get hands-on experience at senior residence center

Freedom New Mexico: Argen Duncan Clovis Community College nursing students Monica Rieff, left, and Diane Davis discuss resident care at Heartland Continuing Care Center Wednesday. In a long-standing partnership, Heartland and CCC work together to have nursing students work at the nursing home as part of their clinical rotations.

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

Students get practical experience and residents gain personal attention in a long-time partnership between Heartland Continuing Center in Portales and Clovis Community College.

As part of their clinical rotations, several groups of CCC nursing students spend two days a week for two weeks each at Heartland every semester. They participate in every aspect of caring for residents, from bathing and dressing to medical treatments, said CCC nursing instructor Juanita Schueler.

Heartland Director of Nursing Chris Paxton said residents enjoy the individual attention students provide. Students learn about such things as disease processes and medications, plus develop a relationship with someone who can teach them about history, she said.

“We think that it’s important to be involved in expanding the base of nurses, because there is a nursing shortage,” Paxton said.

The shortage particularly impacts rural areas, she said, and the aging population needs nurses to give them the best care and advocate for them.

Paxton said students have a supervisor and nursing home staff to answer their questions, and they aren’t assigned to work with high-risk patients.

Most CCC nursing students at Heartland are in the first or second semester of a two-year program, but sometimes a fourth-semester student comes for a week to act as a leader to newer students.

“It’s nice to provide residents the care that they need, and it gives us the experience we need,” said second-semester nursing student Monica Rieff.

Fourth-semester nursing student Diane Davis said at Heartland, students can practice skills they wouldn’t be able to in other places. They need the experience, because practicing on a dummy isn’t the same as working with a real person, she said.

Schueler said she has students at Heartland for about 12 weeks a semester. Each student focuses on two residents.

“The benefit is they get some hands-on experience taking care of a patient in a safe environment,” she said, adding that she’s there to ensure students are safe and know what they’re doing.