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Nursing Students Innovating Their Future Workplace

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Four Purdue nursing students turned an experiential learning program into an Indiana Hospital Association (IHA) supported project that would provide better communication more consistent patient care between U.S. hospitals.
The project was developed as part of Purdue University Calumet's Capstone Course in Nursing under professor Gail Wegner. It is a newly mandatory experiential learning program that combines service learning with project-based practicum. Part of the class involves 30 hours of volunteer work, and a further 60 hours is dedicated to group project work based on a selected design project. Nursing students collaborate with a department faculty member and a healthcare agency representative in pursuing their project.
Projects were created based on a list of ?wants and needs? of area healthcare facilities. The innovative project in question sought to unify the color coding of hospital wristbands in all area hospitals. All area hospitals use the same five colors of wristband: green, yellow, red, purple, and pink. While the colors are universal, their encoding is not. This can become a serious problem if a patient is transferred from one hospital to a new one that does not use the same color identification. These are the simple type of medical mistakes that plague us during this nursing shortage, but could be alleviated on an organizational level much faster than we can meet the growing demand for nurses in our healthcare facilities.
Unlike the triage color system, which is universal not only inside the United States, but in many foreign countries as well, this system of color coding has no overarching guide. Students noted the alarming problem that a hospital which uses yellow wristbands to signify allergies may transfer patients to another hospital where the color yellow designates a different condition entirely. The IHA was involved with the group during the research stages of the project. Students had initially contacted the IHA to develop a source for research, but the association took special interest in the project and asked for permission to use some of the students' material for a project they are developing.
According to the Post-Tribune, students were excited to share their project with the IHA. The completed project that the group submitted included a ?tool kit? that includes research findings and suggested solutions.
The four students' success has thrown the spotlight onto Purdue's nursing program. Students pursuing a B.A. in nursing must complete two experiential learning courses before graduating. In addition to the Capstone Course, students can fulfill this requirement with internships, cooperative education, applied research with faculty, study abroad, design projects, or community service learning.
Other projects that came from the most recent Capstone Course in Nursing included implementing a hospital bereavement program, and researching an alcohol withdrawal protocol on a hospital medical/surgical unit, amongst others.

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