College students preparing for careers in health care learn a lot through classroom lectures; however, hands-on clinical fieldwork in health care facilities like Elant provides students with invaluable firsthand experience and personal insight about caring for patients and residents. The lessons learned through these experiences often stay with the students throughout their careers.
Elant and many of the area’s local colleges have had long-standing collaborative relationships that benefit both the students and Elant’s patients and residents. Through clinical fieldwork conducted at Elant’s facilities, college students experience (under the supervision of an instructor) what it’s like to provide clinical, therapeutic and emotional care for senior citizens, and Elant’s patients and residents have the opportunity to meet new faces and help teach their student caregivers.
“Nurses have to address even the little things; there are many aspects of patient care,” said Jill Saydlowski of Milford, Conn., a 2013 graduate of Mount Saint Mary College. During the fall 2012 semester, she was assigned to Elant at Fishkill for fieldwork for Professor Priscilla Sagar’s Community Health Nursing course. “Through my clinical experience, I learned how to better assess the patient.”
Mount St. Mary College has 650 students in both undergraduate and graduate levels of its nursing programs. It places about 100 students – mostly sophomores – into clinical fieldwork assignments at Elant at Meadow Hill and Elant at Goshen.
“We could not do what we do here at the Mount without relationships in the community like the one we have with Elant,” said Andrea Ackermann, Ph. D., RN, Professor and Chair of Mount St. Mary’s Division of Nursing. “They support us as we cultivate great nurses.”
“Collaboration between practice and education is the key to safe and competent care for everyone,” she said. “It’s these types of relationships that will foster not just adequate health care, but excellent health care. And that’s what our community deserves.”
Christine O’Toole, Vice President and Executive Director of Elant at Meadow Hill, likes the application of classroom theory to clinical practice. “In a long-term care facility, just as in other clinical settings for nursing students, they are learning about effective communication techniques and establishing a positive relationship with the resident.”
Since 2008, Dutchess County Community College has been sending two groups of 10 students enrolled in its clinical nursing course, along with a clinical instructor every fall semester to Elant at Fishkill for clinical experience assignments. For five hours a day, students provide direct care to residents, hone their assessment skills, administer medications and study the social, psychological, financial and political aspects of long-term care.
This spring semester, the school began sending eight students to Elant at Fishkill for their final clinical experience. In addition to providing care, students will be exposed to the role of nursing in relationship to regulatory compliance, patient advocacy, and organizational and financial management.
Ingeborg X. Grutzner, RN, Professor and Head of the college’s Department of Nursing, said students have the opportunity in practice settings to make nursing judgments while caring for patients and their families, to reflect on ethical concerns and to collaborate with other members of the health care team.
“We value our relationship with Elant and appreciate the welcoming acceptance of management and the staff’s helpful attitude toward our students,” said Grutzner.
“For Elant at Fishkill, it is a pleasure to work with Dutchess students,” said Elant at Fishkill Director of Nursing, Patricia Long, RN. “They are always enthusiastic and eager to learn. Long-term care is a growing field, and there is a lot of opportunity for nurses. We’ve hired a number of Dutchess students who have started their careers here.”
SUNY Orange’s long-standing relationship with Elant has provided opportunities for students enrolled in the nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy assistant programs to complete their lab and clinical experience requirements at several of Elant’s sites.
“Clinical experience is paramount to our success,” said Patricia Slesinski, RN, Professor and Chairperson of SUNY Orange’s Department of Nursing. “We need to partner with quality facilities like Elant for clinical experience that meets the objectives of both the institution and Elant.”
SUNY Orange occupational therapy students gain extensive hands-on experience while they spend time during each of the semesters of the two year program completing lab and clinical fieldwork assignments in Elant facilities.
“Elant provides real-life models for the students, and the residents enjoy teaching the students,” said Flo Hannes, OTR/L, FAOTA, and Chairperson of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Department at SUNY Orange. “SUNY Orange’s collaboration with Elant helps us develop a very sound foundation for our students to apply the principles they are learning into real-life situations with residents at Elant. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
In addition to the benefits Elant gains while the students are completing fieldwork, Elant also has the opportunity to assess the students as potential employees once they graduate. The hiring manager can observe the student in real-life situations which is more valuable than a conventional job interview to determine whether an individual would be a good employee candidate and fit with the organization’s culture.
“Last year, Elant hired three students who had completed their clinical affiliation with us,” said Donna Frazier, Elant’s Corporate Rehabilitation Director. Frazier is also an Adjunct Professor at the school and the Chairperson of the school’s Professional Advisory Committee. “It’s a great program that benefits everyone.”
Elant’s College Partnerships
- Daemon College (Physical Therapy)
- Dominican College (Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy)
- Dutchess County Community College (Nursing)
- Keuka College (Occupational Therapy)
- Ithaca College (Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy)
- Mount St. Mary’s College (Nursing)
- Mercy College (Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy)
- SUNY Orange (Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Nursing)
- University of Virginia (Occupational Therapy)
- Utica College (Occupational Therapy)
Elant is a comprehensive health care system that serves the needs of more than 3,500 individuals throughout the Hudson Valley region. The organization includes six campuses and employs more than 1,200 dedicated individuals. Elant provides a full continuum of care, including Sub-Acute Care and Rehabilitation Services, Nursing Home Care, Assisted Living, Adult Day Care, Retirement Community Living, Home Health Care and a Managed Long Term Care Plan. To learn more, visit www.elant.org.