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Amid pandemic, Galen College of Nursing students gain valuable experience working alongside HCA Healthcare nurses

A woman wearing a headset sitting at a desk with two computer monitors
Mercedes Hester, a registered nurse with HCA Healthcare’s National Contact Center Management (NCCM).

In March 2020, students from the Galen College of Nursing were anxiously awaiting their upcoming graduation and starting to plan their career journeys. However, COVID-19 made its debut across the world and altered those plans in a dramatic way. 

As healthcare facilities prepared for the unknown, nursing students experienced unexpected delays in their clinical rotations. Without the opportunity to complete necessary clinical rotation hours, they would not be able to graduate.

Through an innovative collaboration between HCA Healthcare’s National Contact Center Management (NCCM) and Galen College of Nursing, the 40 soon-to-be graduates were able to participate in a customized clinical rotation. By connecting with colleagues at NCCM, these students were able to watch the process of assessing and advising a patient virtually.

Helping patients get the care they need, NCCM colleagues provide services to connect consumers to the next point of care in their healthcare journey. NCCM employs registered and licensed practical nurses in over 40 states who offer patients clinical guidance and link them to proper care resources.

HCA Healthcare nurses like Mercedes Hester were integral in training and educating Galen students during the clinical rotations.

“As soon as I heard about this opportunity, I jumped on it,” said Mercedes. “I like that the students get to see another aspect of nursing. I never knew this existed and it’s something I didn’t think about before I became a nurse.”

During this type of remote clinical rotation, students like Samantha Zipf were able to put into practice ‘active listening’ during virtual conversations with patients.

Woman wearing a gray t-shirt that says Galen College.
Galen College of Nursing student, Samantha Zipf

“The big thing for me that I took away is learning how to listen better to a patient, which is such an important part of being a nurse,” said Samantha. “I think this was a great way to learn because your focus on helping patients begins with listening, and that’s the main method of communication at the call center.”

Students are taught to ‘see with their ears’ during their phone interactions with patients. Small details, like the patient’s tone of voice, can be significant indicators of the potential diagnosis.

As of August 2021, approximately 1,594 nursing students completed a clinical rotation through NCCM. With the critical skills nursing students gain from the rotation, plans are underway to keep these as a clinical rotation option for nursing students moving forward.

For Samantha, this clinical rotation was critical in taking another step closer to graduating. Samantha graduates in December 2021 and plans to continue her education. Her goal is to work as a registered nurse in the emergency department.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 186 hospitals and more than 2,000 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our approximately 275,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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