COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado nursing students have been hit hard by COVID-19. The pandemic forcing a lot of changes to how they take exams and complete clinical hours.
Destinations Career Academy of Colorado received $60,000 in funding to create a mobile nursing lab equipped with hospital beds and other medical equipment.
"Getting this mobile lab makes me absolutely excited," said Veronica Palmer, Student at Destinations Career Academy of Colorado.
Palmer is studying online at CODCA to become a registered nurse. The pandemic a big motivator for her to finish school.
"It pushed me to see all of these nurses putting their lives on the frontlines while people were battling COVID-19 and trying to make it as personal as possible. It pushed me even harder to go to school and get registered," said Palmer.
It hasn't been easy with the pandemic forcing a lot of changes.
"I was worried about where we were going to do our clinical hours and if we would do it in a simulated lab. We had ours back in January, and that was at our school's offices and it was sort of a mock sort of setup. It was very difficult so I would rather with real people for my clinical and I was worried we wouldn't get in anywhere," said Palmer.
Now with the mobile nursing lab, she'll not only have a place to complete her clinical hours but to get industry-level training.
"By adding this mobile lab, they can really get the whole package. They have the course work taught by our nurse, they have the lab and clinical hours, and finally, take that certification and hopefully graduate as a CNA, CMA, or phlebotomy," said Teri Cady, Head of School, Destinations Career Academy of Colorado.
CODCA was approved by the state of Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), to host the exam necessary to become a CNA. The school has always offered pre-CNA classes, but students could not sit for the CNA exam because they did not have a proper facility.
"This year what we've done, we have a wonderful classroom at our office in West Minister, we purchased all of the lab equipment required and made our own little medical lab that was approved by the state board of nursing. So that was great for our student's that live locally and can get to that lab and work with our nurse. What we did this year even is pile all of that equipment into a Uhaul and our nurse traveled to a lot of different spots to meet the needs of students who don't live in the Denver area," said Cady.
She says the long-term solution is the creation of the mobile nursing lab. While the idea was born from the pandemic, she says it will be a permanent option for their students.
"While the front range is pretty accessible to get into labs and classrooms, many of our students don't live along the front range so this is a way to meet their needs," said Cady.
The new lab also helping to bring more students into an industry needed now more than ever.
"There are future generations of kids that are going to be coming into this class and get this RV/U-Haul thing to come to them so they don't have to worry who is going to let us in, how are we going to do this. It's right here, in my own comfort, for now," said Palmer.
Right now, CODCA is using a U-Haul until the mobile lab is finished. They're hoping to have it ready to go by the fall semester.
Enrollment for 2021-2022 is open, those interested can visit the school's website.