NDSU health professions students help with COVID-19 testing

NDSU health professions students help with COVID-19 testing


More than 65 NDSU upper-level nursing and pharmacy students have volunteered to assist the North Dakota Department of Health with COVID-19 mass testing events in Fargo Aug. 18-23.

“I volunteered because I want to do everything I can to help students at NDSU stay safe during these uncertain times,” said Aaron Peckskamp, a senior in nursing. “I am hoping to learn ways to help me and others stay safe during this pandemic. Any sort of extra training will benefit me as I enter a nursing career.”

Nancy Turrubiates, lecturer and public health clinical coordinator in the NDSU School of Nursing, is one of the faculty members coordinating the efforts of students. “My hope is that students see what it takes to partake in a mass screening event—the collaboration efforts between the university, county and state in order to identify people who may need to isolate or quarantine,” she said. “Testing is an important part of public health and mitigation efforts.”

All student volunteers are supervised by a faculty member or a preceptor such as a North Dakota Department of Health nurse. Students volunteering were fitted for personal protection equipment and provided with education and training on proper procedure and technique.

Upper-level nursing and pharmacy students who volunteered have been properly identified, screened and trained to assist with swabbing under supervision of faculty and North Dakota State Health Department staff.

“The School of Nursing recognized that this collaborative effort was much needed,” said Turrubiates. “Not only do our nursing and pharmacy students benefit from experiential learning opportunities, the community as a whole will benefit from additional screenings for COVID-19.”

Upper-level pharmacy students also volunteered and were trained to assist.

“I want to spend some of my future practice traveling to specific populations to provide health care; this mass testing provides a glimpse of that,” said Taylor Bengtson, a third-year pharmacy student. “I want to use this opportunity to learn even more about COVID-19, how it affects an overall younger population and how to implement these testing skills in my future practice.”

Elizabeth Skoy, associate professor in the NDSU School of Pharmacy, is helping coordinate the student effort. “Pharmacies across the state of North Dakota are becoming more involved in screening for COVID-19 patients. Pharmacy students learn how to provide point-of-care screenings and sample collection, so this is an opportunity for students to serve the state and utilize their skills,” Skoy said.

“The collaboration between nursing and pharmacy illustrates the commitment of the NDSU College of Health Professions to interprofessional education, helping students prepare to work together as members of the health care team,” said Charles D. Peterson, dean of NDSU’s College of Health Professions.

In fall 2020, senior NDSU nursing students will continue to assist with COVID-19 screenings. In addition, more than 30 NDSU Public Health graduate students and recent graduates also have been trained as contact tracers to assist the North Dakota Department of Health during the pandemic. Another 50 students in Health Professions are being sought for contact tracing positions. Other NDSU Master of Public Health students have helped perform COVID-19 antibody testing.

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