School of Health Professions

PA and Nursing students learn skills side by side

PA and nursing students interprofessional

By Kate Hunger

When Madison Ashley is a practicing physician assistant someday, she likely won't be regularly placing IVs or urinary catheters. But the second-year Physician Assistant Studies student said learning clinical skills in class alongside nursing students this summer will serve her well professionally. 

"Knowing exactly what everyone's role is," will help, she said, adding that understanding more about what is involved in procedures is important. "It's good to know just exactly what are you going to be ordering."

Establishing a relationship with other health professions early is key, Ashley said. That connection is a major reason for the focus on interprofessional education, said Lark Ford, Ph.D., MA, MSN, BSN, School of Nursing assistant professor/clinical. 

Teaching PA and nursing students' clinical skills together further the goal of raising awareness and appreciation of other health professions, she said. 

"They learn exactly the same skills," said Ford, who worked with Leticia Bland, MPAS, PA-C, PA Studies assistant professor, to coordinate the interprofessional experience. 

During four sessions this summer, 45 PA students, and 51 nursing students came together to learn and practice clinical skills including IV placement and injections, placement of urinary catheters, insertion of nasogastric tubes and blood glucose monitoring. 

"I always ask the PAs, 'Why would you need to know this skill?' Ford said, explaining that creating connections among students from different health professions has wider implications, including a better appreciation of how each profession contributes to the healthcare team. 

"One is not less than the other," she said. 

First-year nursing student Suzanne Seiders enjoyed getting to know PA students and likes knowing that students of different health professions are learning the same material. 

Seiders found the IV placement lab to be the most challenging. 

"With the Foley catheter and the nasogastric tube, it's really clear where you are putting the tube on a mannequin," she explained. "With the IVs, veins are under the skin, so you don't see a clear opening." 



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