Fairfield Egan Faculty & Students Aid in Campus Covid-19 Testing

Fairfield Egan Faculty & Students Aid in Campus Covid-19 Testing

Students and faculty from the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies are going beyond the classroom to put the Jesuit mission to be "men and women for others" into practice.

In their new roles facilitating the on-campus Covid-19 testing surveillance program, Egan School students are developing experiential skills while serving their campus community as men and women for others.

The collaboration between Fairfield Egan and University testing began a year ago when Fairfield was preparing to reopen. During the planning stages, it became clear that the needs of the campus community might surpass available outside resources, and that the pandemic could continue to present challenges in securing clinical opportunities for Egan students.

“Building on our strong relationships with the Student Health Center, we mobilized our students where they were needed,” said Dean Meredith Wallace Kazer, PhD, APRN-FAAN. “The Egan students, who work under both the Student Health Center and Egan faculty, have allowed the Health Center to upscale operations in response to the University needs during the pandemic. The collaborative effort has fostered the health and safety of the campus and we are thrilled to expand our work with the Student Health Center to meet the needs of our shared community.”

At the beginning of the fall semester, the undergraduate nursing and public health students were trained as nasal-swab observers. This experience replaced a clinical day for nursing students and experiential opportunities for public health students. During the testing clinics on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, students work under the direction of Egan faculty. 

Senior nursing student Kathrine Vitiello ’21 and her fellow nursing students recently conducted more than 500 nasal swab tests during a testing day. She described the experience as being seamless and credits Dean Kazer for the smooth operations.

“This is a wonderful experience for nursing students to have. It helps us apply what we learn in the classroom to the clinical setting, and gives us the opportunity to fine tune our communication skills." 

Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) students went through extensive training to become the University’s contact tracers. In addition to contact tracing, the DNP students conducted health check calls to isolated students while the graduate level psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and DNP students, under the direction of Egan faculty, engaged in mental health checks to isolated students as part of their DNP educational or immersion experience.

DNP candidate Danielle Katz is a contact tracer and also conducts daily health check-ins with isolated students. For Katz, talking to students who are in isolation has been the most rewarding part of the experience. Given an up close look at what this generation of college students is going through, Katz and her peers are able to indentify with what each student is experiencing and connect with them. Katz complimented the University's well-executed reopening plan, and noted that bringing ideas into fruition is "what makes Fairfield... Fairfield."

On her biggest takeaway Katz said, "When something like this pandemic happens in the world, we all ask 'how can I help?' How could I not help? Coming together as a community, we collectively make a contribution and a difference." 

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