News | Published December 10, 2012

Mount Nittany Health increases its capacity as a teaching institution

Mount Nittany Health has an educational tradition which is being exemplified more and more each year with more than 255 students serving in clinical experiences and internship posts this fall. Many students are from the local community, including 201 Pennsylvania State University nursing students and 10 State College High School students in the clinical observation class offered through the health professions program. This year also marks the first year for 13 residential full-time medical students who are in their third year at Penn State College of Medicine.

Carol Kennedy, MS, BSN, RN, clinical educator at Mount Nittany Medical Center, has her work cut out for her. It is her job to match students with the right experiences and settings. "Our role in the community is to help future professionals," says Kennedy. Besides the Penn State nursing students, there are students who come from Lock Haven University, Clearfield Campus; Pennsylvania College of Technology; and Central PA Institute of Science and Technology, to name a few.

Some nursing students have an in-depth experience called the capstone. Kim Hoover, RN, BSN, CMSR, clinical supervisor/practice advancement specialist, has been involved in this program for two years. She says the program helps the students to begin the transition into the role of nurse. They gain "on the job" experiences that aren't always available in the normal clinical or classroom setting by working one-on-one with a staff nurse.

"The Medical Center also benefits because we have the opportunity to see how the student is performing in the nursing role, we receive feedback from their preceptor and often others that work with them, and this helps us see if the student would be a good fit for our organization as a nurse once they graduate," she said.

Dianne Barben, MSN, RNc, director of women and children's services, says a big benefit for the nursing staff is that the role of teacher for the students helps to keep the staff abreast of clinical changes in the field.

"Students really enjoy the experience, particularly when they see the birth of an infant. Childbirth is one single life process that has touched all of us," says Barben.

Mount Nittany Medical Center has a school of clinical laboratory science and also a cohort of radiology students from the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport who complete their clinical experience at the hospital each year.

Be sure to read the profile story of one of the Penn State medical students in this edition of Life & Health.