Nursing students collect samples during COVID-19 testing at ASU

TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Nursing students at the ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation are getting hours under their belt and real-life experience by being specially fitted with N95s and other PPE in order to collect COVID-19 samples on the ASU campus.

"This is an opportunity for students who are in the nursing program to get some clinical experiences with patients in the community in order to understand the necessity of personal protective equipment," said Salina Bednarek, a clinical assistant professor and director prelicensure nursing programs at the Edson College of Nursing. "We're giving our students an opportunity that most nursing students have never had."

So far, 288 students have been able to participate in collecting test samples.

First, they're medically cleared to wear a respirator. "In addition to the N95 fit test and the medical clearance they also have to undergo HIPAA training as well as an onsite training for what we actually do here," said Amanda Rice, with ASU's Environmental Health and Safety department.

To be fitted with an N95 mask, students are exposed to a spray so they know what it tastes like, then they put on an N95 and are sprayed again. If they can't taste it, their N95 is sealed and they are protected.

"We have different models for different face types so we want to make sure each person has a good seal and that the N95 is actually going to be effective against any airborne particles that would come and be filtered through," Rice explained. "It's a standard operating procedure ASU has for personnel in different lines of work."

Once they are fitted with a mask, they are able to keep it and reuse in the future.

"If you just look at it from a scientific point of view, like we're in full droplet protocol, if not more. We're safe, this is as safe as it gets," said Shireen Khan, a nursing student.

The students are then taught how to properly put on other PPE before they can collect samples.

"You have to have gloves, you have to have a gown, you have to have a mask, you have to have an N95 mask, you have to have a face shield in order to be out in the area where we potentially could come in contact with saliva," said Bednarek.

Khan said it's a monumental opportunity as a nursing student to be able to get this kind of hands-on education. "It feels like we're really blessed to have this opportunity that ASU is providing," Khan said.


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