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While the pandemic continues to stretch colleges and universities in new and challenging ways, Ameritech College is helping nursing students gain unprecedented, first-hand experience in the healthcare field.

How Ameritech College is setting a new benchmark for nursing education

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stretch colleges and universities in new and challenging ways, Ameritech College is helping nursing students gain unprecedented, first-hand experience in the field as volunteers with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) of Utah. 

The Utah MRC is a network of local medical volunteers sponsored by the Salt Lake County Health Department, and is actively deployed throughout the Salt Lake valley to provide coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and medical support to the local communities there. Along with other medical volunteers, Ameritech nursing students are spending their clinical hours on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, gaining invaluable hands-on training while serving the greater community. 

“The MRC task force is assisting with multiple operations, including identifying ‘COVID hot spots’ . . . offering COVID testing and screening at multiple locations for free, and going to numerous long term care facilities, homeless and refugee communities and providing education, screening and testing for individuals,” reports Bryan Lewis, emergency planner for the Salt Lake County Health Department. 

When COVID was identified in January 2020, the local health department activated the MRC, seeking volunteers throughout the county to lend support in slowing the spread of the virus. In collaboration with Bryan Lewis, clinical instructor Jill Dubbelman organized Ameritech’s senior capstone nursing students into volunteer strike teams to provide assistance in the COVID testing facilities.  

Ameritech’s commitment to keeping their students on track for graduation has motivated the faculty to find new and innovative ways to help students earn their clinical hours while making an impact on the pandemic. Part of this strategy includes getting students out of the virtual classroom and into the community where they can learn practical skills, shadow nurses in the field, and get real-world experience in patient care. 

“Joining the MRC put me on the front lines of the COVID pandemic . . . [W]e work hard, we work fast and are committed to giving the best care and finding results in the most efficient manner during this time,”  says Ameritech BSN nursing student, Anna Tremea. “It’s been very enjoyable to be able to be a part of such a big part of our world history. Every day we are deployed out to test for illness, and I’m grateful every day to be a part of the medical profession. I’m very proud of the work that we all do in order to help control the spread of COVID as well as other everyday healthcare work. It has really opened my eyes to an entirely new, community-based side of healthcare.”

In preparation for their deployment, the students underwent a crash course training in extensive PPE, FEMA disaster coordinating, and lab testing led by Jill Dubbelman. Year to date, the students have administered 15,000 COVID tests through the MRC. “It felt great to take part in such impactful work as a student . . . I felt like everything I had learned in school up that point was finally falling into place and that I could actually help people. It was so fulfilling!” says ASN student Jessica Reilly. 

Ameritech recognizes that a quality education goes beyond the classroom. By partnering with organizations like the MRC, Ameritech students are able to get first-hand experience practicing nursing where it matters most. “I have loved the autonomy of participating in the MRC and the feeling of actually doing something to improve and serve my community. It is so rewarding to know that I am contributing to the success of my state through this pandemic. Serving others is the most important part of nursing in my eyes, and I am being provided with ample opportunities to serve by being a part of the MRC,” said Alta Findlay, BSN student at Ameritech. 

Now more than ever, the demand for quality nurses entering the field is at an all-time high. While the coronavirus pandemic is certainly adding to the load, the shortage is likely to continue as an estimated 50 percent of nurses practicing are over the age of 50, according to Indeed.com. This means that as working nurses begin to reach retirement age, the impact to this shortage is likely to be even greater. If you’ve ever considered a career change to the field of nursing, there’s never been a better time to make the switch. As one of Utah’s leading nursing schools, Ameritech College offers accelerated, accredited programs that can help students reach their career goals in as little as 18 months. 

Read more about how Ameritech is making an impact on the coronavirus pandemic here.

Dr. Rodriguez joins Ameritech College of Healthcare as Associate Provost. He comes with more than 18 years of experience in a wide array of higher education faculty, staff, and leadership roles at college/university and systems levels, including 12 years as a vice president. In addition to his executive and administrative experience, Dr. Rodriguez has held faculty appointments as a Full Professor of Education and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice. Rodriguez entered higher education after retiring from a distinguished career in criminal justice. Dr. Rodriguez has published in the areas of criminal justice ethics, affirmative action, discriminatory criminal justice practices, and has given numerous presentations at a wide array of professional conferences, including the American Criminal Justice Society, American Criminological Society, Midwest Sociological Society, Midwest Research to Practice, and WASC ARC. He has also authored opinion editorials in the Daily Herald, Baltimore Sun, and Chicago Sun Times. He has served as a DETC (now DEAC) accreditation peer reviewer and has served his community for 14 years as a Fire Commissioner. Rodriguez is a graduate of the WASC Assessment Leadership Academy, Cohort VI. Prior to entering higher education, Rodriguez served as a law enforcement official in the Chicago area for 20 years, holding a post-grad Police Executive certification. In his law enforcement career, he served in corrections, patrol, and investigations, as well as in specialty units including service as an airborne law enforcement specialist, bomb technician, and explosive breacher for the SWAT team. He also served as a Special Deputy United States Marshal for bombing and post-blast investigations, a member of the federal Weapons of Mass Destruction Response Team, and a commander of a multi-jurisdictional Major Crimes Task Force, where he leveraged his special expertise and certifications in general crime scene analysis and reconstruction, traffic accident reconstruction, arson investigation, bloodstain pattern analysis, trajectory, and wound ballistics. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

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