Clinical partnerships with local, regional and even international healthcare agencies offer a powerful dose of real-world education for University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Nursing (CON) students.
“All of our undergraduate and graduate programs include some component in which the students take and synthesize the knowledge they’ve learned from lectures and simulation labs and apply it in the clinical setting,” said Judy Westphal, CON interim dean.
UW Oshkosh maintains dozens of partnerships with both small and large-scale healthcare agencies to offer its students a wide range of experiences from hospital operating rooms to public health clinics and even correctional centers.
“We don’t have a nursing program without our clinical partners,” Westphal said.
The partner agencies often offer students the opportunity to use the latest equipment and to become familiar with different documentation systems. Meanwhile, the partners benefit from staying in touch with a steady pipeline of future nurses.
Bonnie Nickasch, director of UWO’s Doctor of Nursing Practice-Family Nurse Practitioner (DNP-FNP) program, agreed that the college’s community partnerships are critical for providing diverse clinical experiences to students.
“I am currently teaching a diversity practicum for our DNP-FNP students, and I am thrilled to have such great support throughout the entire state of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan,” she said. “We have students working in correctional centers, low income/free clinics, migrant clinics and more.”
UWO BSN to DNP graduate Allison Stephenson ’16, of Oshkosh, said while working on her DNP she focused not only on expanding her nursing knowledge but also on her own personal and professional development.
“While I learned a lot in the typical classroom setting, where I really gained the most valuable experience was in the clinical setting,” she said. “Patients do not present exactly like what the textbook describes. The clinical setting teaches you this very quickly. I learned the art of patient care.”
After graduation, Stephenson established herself as a primary care provider in an Oshkosh clinic and soon found a way to give back to her alma mater by serving as a clinical preceptor for the college.
“I knew first-hand how valuable the clinical experience was in my own education, and I wanted to be sure to give back,” she explained. “As a preceptor, I learn just as much as I teach. Working with students keeps me up to date in my own clinical practice. Working with future NPs who are learning the most recent evidence-based care is another way I ensure that my practice remains current.”