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How UNG is teaming up with NGHS to give students a collaborative experience in the medical field
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UNG nursing students Abigail Bourgeois, seated in front, and Alyssa Ahrens work alongside their nurse preceptor, Tiffany Allen, seated in back. Photo courtesy of NGHS

The University of North Georgia has partnered with Northeast Georgia Health System to offer a pilot program this spring that gives students the ability to work and grow alongside their peers.

The opportunity involves clinical instruction at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville and Lumpkin hospitals, as well as Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Urgent Care and Primary Care facilities.

The program currently has 10 students pursuing a bachelor’s in nursing, 10 earning a master’s in nursing with a concentration in family nurse practitioner and five students working toward a doctorate in physical therapy. 

Unlike traditional clinicals, where one student is paired with one or more instructors in a medical facility, two UNG students in the program are assigned to the same individual instructor.

"We want to create a well-rounded student able to enter the current atmosphere with more confidence and a stronger knowledge base," Carolynn DeSandre, interim dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professions, said in a press release.

Lea Ann Porter, who is finishing up her doctorate in physician therapy, said she has been in settings where she has worked with multiple students from other universities from different disciplines. Over the past 11 weeks, she has been able to team up with one peer in the same program at NGMC Gainesville, which she said has proved valuable.

“When we’re treating patients, it just provides us an opportunity to collaborate more,” Porter said. “We get to bounce ideas off each other and bring up things to each other of something we may have missed before.”

Natalie Johnson, a senior nursing student, said in previous clinicals, she has worked with different nurses, depending on their schedules. 

“One thing that’s nice about this program is that we’re paired with the same nurse every single week,” she said. “A nurse that wants to take students and is willing to help us learn how to be a new nurse. I feel like I’ve been able to get more hands-on with patients than what I’ve been able to in the past.”

During the beginning of the pandemic, Porter said many hospitals across the country were unable to instruct students for clinical practice. The physical therapy student added that she is grateful to the health system for taking in students this semester, despite their heavy workload during the pandemic.

“For them to provide us the people to train us and to put that time in, and to allow us to come into their facility, that means a lot,” Porter said.