nursing seniors fight coronavirusMarch 26, 2020 (Jackson, Miss.) - During the COVID-19 pandemic, senior nursing students from Belhaven University are taking action to serve their campus and community. Led by Associate Professor of Nursing Elise Turner, the team is educating and promoting prevention and infection-control.

“Student nurses are an important part of any healthcare manpower calculation,” said Turner. “These students feel called to nursing by God and are eager to use their capabilities to promote health in our community. The joy that the students take in this work is inspiring; they want to make a difference.”

The team from Belhaven's School of Nursing is focusing their efforts on three key staff groups on campus: security officers, resident directors and housekeepers. Turner observed, “These are important staff who are on campus and serving our Belhaven community. We want them to have information to feel confident about decreasing the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the community.”

The nursing seniors are teaching infection-control techniques such as symptom and temperature monitoring, hand washing, respiratory hygiene, sanitizer use, social distancing, and sanitation of surfaces and objects. They have already talked to campus operations' team about sanitation practices, and two students have also made sanitation reminder hangtags for security vehicles. The team has also created and put up posters reminding students living in residence halls how to decrease the risk of infection, symptoms to be aware of, and how to seek help.

Rebecca Rylander, a senior nursing major from Brandon, Miss., observed the current need to stop the spread of COVID-19 and is ready to serve. “There is a desperate need for healthcare workers amidst this pandemic, and I want to help fill that need,” said Rylander. “Nurses are called to help those who are sick and dying, and right now the world needs compassionate and caring nurses.”

Turner emphasized the need to prepare her students for what is to come as they enter the medical field. “They are getting helpful knowledge and experience about a variety of infection control measures and safety in situations of infection risk,” said Turner. “Just as our other clinical rotations, the students are using critical thinking, principles of nursing, and scientific knowledge to move our outreach program forward. These basic nursing concepts are applicable in any clinical setting, no matter where they work as registered nurses.”

Rylander believes the best thing young people can do to save lives is stay home and stay informed. “As young adults, we are not at high risk,” said Rylander, “However, many of our friends and family are at high risk. During this time of crisis, it is important for us to demonstrate our Christian values of compassion and self-sacrifice to protect the vulnerable people around us. This is an important time for us to consider others needs above our own.”