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Skilled to Work: UAH students get hands-on experience at Decatur-Morgan Hospital

Five lucky nursing students got the chance to assist a surgeon in an operating room at Decatur-Morgan Hospital.

Posted: Jul 4, 2019 9:11 PM

We’re learning how a local hospital and college are teaming up to combat the shortage of surgical nurses.

WAAY 31 found out how students are receiving hands-on experience to encourage them to pursue careers as nurses in the operating room.

“I was unsure whenever I first started the class," Rebecca Shores said. "I was interested in it because it sounded super cool.”

22-year-old Rebecca Shores is in her third semester at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She is getting a better idea of what she wants to do in the medical field after she had the opportunity to particpate in a program like the surgical simulation at Decatur-Morgan Hospital.

“Surreal. I think that’s the best word I can come up with for it. It’s surreal," Shores said. "I just feel privileged to be able to go into the or and interact with patients, and the nurses trust us in doing what we need to do.”

That includes charting, handling surgical instruments, and so much more.

In this particular simulation, students get to see all aspects of a surgery—from pre-operative care to the actual operation to post-anesthesia care.

It’s something they’d never be able to learn in a classroom.

“The goal here is to really promote surgery to our nursing students who don’t have an opportunity to learn about this in our traditional curriculum," UAH nursing professor, Donna Guerra, said. "To really understand what it’s like to be an operating room nurse and to work in the surgery setting.”

Students spent a couple of weeks in the operating room, just watching. But now, they get to say they've actually helped a surgeon perform an appendectomy on a cadaver simulator.

“The hope is that they will become operating room nurses, but even if they don’t, there’s so much that patient experiences and the or offers to them, as students, to take into their practice, no matter which area they go into," Guerra said.

As for Rebecca Shores, she told WAAY 31 she's keeping her options open.

“Now that I’ve been in it, I’m like, ‘Wow, this is super fun! This might be something I want to do!’”

This is the second year Decatur-Morgan Hospital has teamed up with UAH nursing students for the surgical simulation. A maximum of six students are allowed to participate, so it’s a highly competitive program to get into.

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