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TAMIU Nursing Students get hands-on experience during pandemic

Students help conduct contact tracing
Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 10:42 AM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) -A shortage of help at the Laredo Health Department turned out to have a silver lining.

Nursing students at TAMIU are getting some much-needed hands-on experience in the medical field during the pandemic.

Nursing programs typically require clinical experience such as working with hospitals, doctor’s offices, and medical centers.

The coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly derailed their plans but now nursing students at Texas A&M International University have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Senior Nursing Student Alyssa Salinas says, “We are calling patients who have COVID-19 and we’re asking them how they’ve been doing, who they’ve been in contact with and who they have been with. With this information, we call the patients, we can call them and ask them to quarantine and isolate themselves.”

Assisting with contract tracing came about when Dr. Marivic Torregosa, the dean of the TAMIU College of Nursing and Health Sciences, contacted the health department three weeks ago. They both agreed this would benefit both parties.

Dr. Torregosa says "There was a shortage of manpower at the health department, and at the time we were needing clinical experience for our students so I thought this would be a good opportunity for the students and at the same time a good way to help the community."

About 60 junior and senior-level nursing students received training through Johns Hopkins University, the World Health Organization, and the local health department.

Each day, 10 students are supervised as they make calls to individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, calls that can last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

Dr. Torregosa calls this the experience "Something most students would read out of a textbook."

Salinas says this is something that makes the students feel special. It’s something no one has ever done. It’s something new.

Copyright 2020 KGNS. All rights reserved.

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