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Nursing students serve campus, gain real-world experience

nursing students
Julee Huesby (left), a nurse at University Health Services with nursing student Natalie Cacchillo. Student Calvin Doerr is standing in as a patient.

The pandemic has made it hard for Boise State nursing students to get the patient care experience and clinical hours they need for licensure. The local hospitals and health systems that normally welcome students have faced their own challenges from COVID-19, including high patient counts and reduced staff.

Stacey Hanrahan, a School of Nursing clinical assistant professor and nurse practitioner in University Health Services, got creative and found alternative clinical opportunities for students on campus. Since February 2022, students – under supervision from their instructors and others – have served patients at University Health Services.

Students seized the opportunity, said Julia Beard, University Health Services executive director.

“The thing I’ve enjoyed about them is that they’re enthusiastic and willing to jump in and do something that they have or haven’t done before,” Beard said. “Their ability to think on their feet and be nimble has been great.”

Student Natalie Cacchillo from Boise is in her fifth of eight semesters in the registered nurse bachelor’s program. She works at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center as a nurse apprentice with the goal of becoming a nurse practitioner in family or internal medicine.

At University Health Services, she did throat swabs, drew blood, and gave allergy injections.

“A lot of the nurses wanted to help me learn,” she said.

Students will continue their clinical experience at University Health Services as needed.