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Nursing and physical therapy students gain experience, insight into the field of home-based health care through VNA Care’s clinical rotations

VNA Care’s clinical affiliations with area colleges support the education and professional development of the next generation of health care professionals.

“Our clinicians love to have students with them and share what they are doing in the field,” said Michele Rosenthal, regional education manager for VNA Care.

Student rotations include the UMass Graduate School for a nurse practitioner in palliative care and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for physical therapy. Senior year nursing students enrolled in Fitchburg State University’s Chronic Illness in the Home & End-of- Life course are also being mentored by VNA Care’s home health and hospice teams.

Sara Lortie, a nursing student at Fitchburg State, recently completed her clinical rotation at VNA Care. She valued the opportunity to observe how patients with COPD, diabetes, and other chronic conditions are cared for outside the hospital setting.

During Sara’s visits with her home health preceptor, she had the chance to learn how to apply Unna Boots, a special compression bandage used to treat slow healing leg wounds and ulcers, as well as how to assess patients for any changes in their condition, and educate patients about their diseases. While with her hospice preceptor, she was able to observe how nurses approach end-of-life care in the home setting.

“The most valuable lesson I learned was strengthening my skills in talking to clients in the home setting rather than in the in-patient setting where we have most of our clinicals,” said Sara.

She added that her time with VNA Care’s nurses “contributed to my learning extensively.”

Michele said one nursing student shared that the experience “opened her eyes to what we actually do out in the field. It was very surprising to her how similar it was to hospital nursing in terms of the acuity of the patient and the things we are able to do for patients in their homes.”