UW News

April 16, 2020

UW nursing students join frontline efforts to battle COVID-19, meet public health needs

UW News

Students working on computers

Fifth-year UW School of Nursing students Laura Jeddeloh, Madeline Stein and Robert Gleason taking calls at the Public Health-Seattle King County call center on Monday, April 13.Public Health-Seattle & King County

With their education forced online and in-person clinical practice opportunities canceled by the novel coronavirus pandemic, University of Washington nursing students eager to use their skills and knowledge during this historic challenge to human health and well-being had few options.

UW School of Nursing and Public Health-Seattle & King County announce partnership.

Unwilling to accept this limited role for nursing students, the UW School of Nursing has partnered with Public Health–Seattle & King County to give students three opportunities to join frontline efforts to meet health needs and treat patients suffering from COVID-19, the deadly disease caused by the virus.

“The clinical student experience in a real-world setting is a critical part of every nurse’s education,” said Azita Emami, executive dean of the UW School of Nursing. “This innovative partnership not only allows our students to use their skills, which are in high demand during this global pandemic, it also enables them to respond to a very compelling, very urgent public need in our community.”

The unique partnership includes three voluntary opportunities:

  • First, since April 6, graduating senior nursing students have been volunteering at Public Health-Seattle & King County COVID-19 Call Centers. Students use their nursing education to provide scientific, evidence-based and accurate information that reflects Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local public health guidelines.
  • Second, doctoral students work in telehealth and telemedicine call centers in local health care organizations. Students are working with faculty advisors to provide virtual health visits for patients who may not be able to visit a traditional clinic due to quarantine, mobility issues or lack of transportation.
  • The third clinical experience will place licensed graduate nursing students at area care centers designated for assessment and recovery for the community’s most vulnerable patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms but are not so ill that they require hospitalization.
Student working on computer

Fifth year UW School of Nursing student Laura Jeddeloh taking calls at the Public Health-Seattle & King County call center on Monday, April 13.Public Health-Seattle & King County

“The next generation of nurses is strengthening our COVID-19 response right now, aiding some of our community’s most vulnerable people at a critical moment,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “This innovative School of Nursing program is just one more way that the University of Washington is a leader in responding to the pandemic, and another reason we are fortunate to have the UW at the center of our community.”

“This is an extraordinary partnership for extraordinary times,” said Patty Hayes, director for Public Health–Seattle & King County. “We are deeply grateful to the School of Nursing and their students for rising to the occasion for our community’s COVID-19 needs, and so pleased to be able to contribute to their growth in this unique way.”

Safety for students and faculty is a priority for both UW School of Nursing and Public Health–Seattle & King County, Emami said. Students and faculty offering direct care at treatment centers will be supplied with personal protective equipment, or PPE, and trained how to properly put it on and take it off.

While all graduating nursing students in the Class of 2020 can meet their clinical requirements through online clinical learning during spring quarter, Emami added, at least 45 students have volunteered for these unique clinical opportunities.

“Serendipitously, 2020 is the International Year of Nurses and Midwives and the final year of the Nursing Now intitative, which recognize the vital role nurses play in our society,” said Emami. “This pandemic has truly shown the heroic role that nurses and other health care professionals play to save lives.”

Financial support for launching these opportunities, including the purchase of PPE, was provided by the CDC Foundation and the de Beaumont Foundation, a public health foundation based in Bethesda, Maryland.

For more information, contact Shari Ireton, Assistant Dean of Marketing & Communication, UW School of Nursing, at slireton@uw.edu and (206) 351-6058.

Learn more about the UW’s Population Health Initiative: a 25-year, interdisciplinary effort to bring understanding and solutions to the biggest challenges facing communities.