TWU Nursing Amidst the COVID-19 Crisis

Healthcare professionals are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. Throughout social media, we see both the praise of these professionals, as well as their own heartfelt pleas for people to exercise caution to help stop the spread of the virus. Tennessee Wesleyan faculty and students, past and present, are a part of this fight.


Tennessee Wesleyan University and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center have a unique partnership. The nursing students at our west Knoxville instructional site are afforded the ability to complete extensive clinical training as a part of the bachelor’s in nursing.


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fort Sanders School of Nursing is being creative with their clinical opportunities. Students continued direct patient care within the Covenant Health System through Match 22, stopping hospital work following Knox County Health Department's "safer at home" order.


The goal is balancing the health and safety of our students and the need to conserve protective equipment, with the invaluable experience to be gained as a healthcare student in the midst of a pandemic.

So the partnership has continued as Fort Sanders Regional continues to provide incredible learning opportunities for TWU nursing students, and in return the program has been able to donate needed supplies to the hospital.


Last week the nursing staff took inventory of the simulation lab and provided a host of personal protective equipment, including 2,200 face masks and 200 isolation gowns.


“As the demand for personal protective equipment became a significant concern for healthcare providers, the TWU Nursing Simulation Lab Coordinator, Vickie Battershell, asked if we could donate lab supplies to the hospital,” said TWU Associate Dean of Allied Health Dr. Lisa Vesser.


“I contacted the Chief Nursing Officer of Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, our primary clinical affiliate, to see if they could use extra gowns and masks,” added Dr. Vesser. “She replied, ‘we can use them for sure.’”


"Donations of PPE supplies that can be used by front line health care workers are extremely appreciated as we continue to face the challenges COVID-19 has brought to our communities and health care settings," said Lynda Watts, Vice President and Chief Nursing Office at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.


Graduates have also reached out to discuss how their training has prepared them for this season. One of those, now a Nurse Practitioner said, “(I’m) forever thankful Ms. Ramsey taught us the proper way to wash our hands. This all goes back to the way you all taught us - hair back, no artificial nails, short nails, wash hands, wear appropriate PPE. Now maybe people get it.”


“It is uplifting to work with faculty who demonstrate such compassion for our professional colleagues and when our students and graduates recognize the relevance of their nursing education,” added Dr. Vesser, “especially during a time such as this unprecedented pandemic.”


As we continue to rely on the tireless work of our healthcare professionals, we will also continue to train the next generation of healthcare professionals, both in the classroom, and through our partnership with Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.