As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, testing is one of the many ways people can keep themselves and others safe by tracing the virus and notifying infected people so they can distance themselves and avoid spreading COVID-19 further.
St. Catherine University’s Assistant Professor of Nursing Gretchen Moen, DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC, is the clinical director of Dakota Child and Family Clinic (DCFC) in Burnsville, Minn. In the summer of 2020, her clinic partnered with Dakota County and added four weekly drive-through COVID-19 testing clinics, which are free to recipients.
In addition to helping to trace COVID-19 through the Twin Cities community, the drive-through clinic provides valuable clinical hours to nursing students, many of whom lost their clinical opportunities due the pandemic’s effects, such as limiting students in clinical spaces for safety reasons. Moen says, “we reached out to undergraduate nursing programs in the area and have been able to offer clinical hours for students, under their community health unit, to help staff these clinics.” Many St. Kate’s undergraduate nursing students have signed up to participate, giving them an opportunity to give back and receive clinical hours at the same time.
In each four-hour testing clinic at the DCFC, the nurses and students administer an average of 150 tests. Moen and the clinic coordinators work tirelessly to coordinate the careful precautionary logistics that the testing requires. “It’s quite a public health undertaking,” remarks Moen. Additionally, Moen and the DCFC care coordinators supply all the personal protective equipment (PPE), training, and onsite supervision.
This is not the first time that Moen has gone above and beyond for St. Kate’s nursing students. At the beginning of the pandemic in spring 2020, many hospitals and clinics were not able to offer clinical placements to nurse practitioner students as was originally planned. To help these students graduate on time, Moen took on an unprecedented 12 nurse practitioner students to precept at the DCFC clinic. These extraordinary efforts earned her and her clinic the Nurse Practitioner Preceptor Award at St. Kate’s Community Partners Recognition Event in December.
As for the COVID-19 testing drive-through clinics, they will continue for as long as there is a need. Moen plans to have nursing students from St. Kate’s and other schools continue to work at these clinics. During these challenging times, “it’s another way to get students involved,” says Moen.