Preparing BSN students for a new workplace: Experiences in a COVID-19 designated unit as an RN extender

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Academic nursing programs were impacted by the onset of the pandemic with the challenges of social distancing, detecting, and controlling the spread of the virus. Many traditionally campus-based, face-to-face programs transitioned quickly to include virtual activities for classes, laboratories, and clinical experiences for students. Initially direct patient care clinical activities came to a halt due to concerns for student safety and overwhelming numbers of COVID-19 cases stressing health system resources. However, as COVID-19 cases began to rise and hospitals struggled with staffing shortages, it became necessary to explore how nursing students could contribute to relieving the staffing burden while obtaining critical education as RN Extenders. Students that participated in the RN Extender program were seniors entering the nursing workforce within the next two months. Significant student screening and preparation was provided to support students serving as RN Extenders in COVID-19 units. The prior working relationships and personal contact between academic and practice leaders, a sense of equal participation, clear and realistic expectations of the benefits and responsibilities of each group were crucial. Building ongoing and frequent opportunities for formal and informal communication among all stakeholders was vital and the major contributor to the success of this program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-33
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Professional Nursing
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • Academic-practice partnership
  • COVID-19
  • Nursing education
  • Nursing leadership
  • Nursing students
  • Public health nursing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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