Nursing Partnership publishes COVID innovations

Photo of Helping Hands durring COVID
Several leaders from the UABSON and UAB Medicine co-authored an article highlighting the UAB Nursing Partnership's approach to staffing and support during the COVID pandemic. Pictured: UABSON faculty and students who took on roles in UAB Hospital to address needs and ensure care during the pandemic.

By Erica Techo

The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing and UAB Hospital are longstanding partners in education and patient care through the UAB Nursing Partnership. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the two worked together to develop innovative solutions to workforce needs, COVID-19 surges and more.

In a recent edition of Nursing Administration Quarterly, several leaders from the UABSON and UAB Medicine co-authored an article highlighting how the UAB Nursing Partnership, an academic-practice partnership to increase professional development, research, practice and educational access across UAB, pivoted to address needs and ensure care during the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presented several challenges for health care systems across the country, as organizations worked to accommodate increased patient loads, vaccination clinics and staffing shortages,” said UAB School of Nursing Dean and Professor Maria R. Shirey, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FNAP, FACHE, FAAN. “The UAB Nursing Partnership provided an essential framework and a strong foundation for our response, and it enabled us to not only plan the best path forward, but also determine outcomes associated with these efforts.”

Shirey led the effort for the School during the pandemic as Associate Dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships. She assumed the role of Dean on June 1.

Co-authors of the paper include now-retired Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair Doreen C. Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN; UAB Medicine Chief Nursing Officer Terri L. Poe, DNP, RN, NE-BC (BSN 1986, DNP 2013); UAB Medicine Associate Vice President of Nursing Quality and Clinical Effectiveness Jill Stewart, DNP, RN, CNOR, LSSGB (MSN 2005, DNP 2010); Assistant Professor Summer Powers, DNP, CRNP, ACNP-BC, AACC (MSN 2006, DNP 2009); Interim Associate Dean for Technology and Innovation Penni Watts, PhD, RN, CHSE-A, FSSH (PhD 2015); and Adjunct Assistant Professor Rhonda McLain, PhD, RN, CNE.

The article details the purpose of an academic-practice nursing partnership, the partnership’s COVID-19 surge response and evaluations of the response.

During a six-week COVID-19 surge response in late 2020 and early 2021, more than 10,000 hours of hospital nurse staffing across 770 shifts and approximately 46,000 vaccine encounters were provided by UAB School of Nursing faculty and students. This support included about 30 percent of the full surge hospital supplemental staffing.

These numbers, Shirey said, are one example of how the existing academic-practice partnership enabled a quick and effective pivot in a rapidly changing environment. They also highlight how the partnership provided an opportunity to many stakeholder groups, including faculty, students and UAB Medicine, to explore new and effective ways to care for patients.

“The UAB Nursing Partnership was an important piece of providing essential nursing services during uncertain times in our community,” Poe said. “Incorporating students and faculty from the UAB School of Nursing helped supplement our existing workforce in order to meet the needs of our patients while providing hands-on clinical experiences to students.”

The article also recommends pursuing the option of an academic-clinical integration framework to establish a strong baseline to supply essential nursing services, whether in a pandemic or not.

“Our existing partnership enabled our organizations and leadership to collaborate quickly and effectively, fulfilling essential roles while reducing costs and amplifying clinical experiences,” Shirey said. “I believe this paper demonstrates the value of an academic-practice partnership and how it can provide a strong foundation for collaboration and nursing excellence.”

Last modified on July 07, 2022

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