Nursing Department Adopts Telemedicine

By Ethan J. Snyder
Jambar Contributor

The medical field is hands-on, and students in the Youngstown State University Department of Nursing are experiencing issues with being able to do their work due to the pandemic. 

Since the emergence of COVID-19, practices in the medical field have changed considerably. As essential workers, medical professionals implement new ways to accommodate and care for patients, such as telemedicine.

Dr. Patricia Hoyson is the director of the family nurse practitioners program at YSU, and also a practicing medical professional.

“Nurses are totally hands-on with patients,”  Hoyson said. “And that’s what nurses will continue to do — that’s just what we do.”

Still, Hoyson said the department is adopting telemedicine. Telemedicine allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using technology. Medical professionals can conduct patient appointments by phone call or even video meetings. This ensures the safety of the physicians as well as the patients.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, NEOMED has limited the number of health care professionals and YSU nursing students allowed in the facility. As an alternative, students have simulated experiences through telemedicine. Photo courtesy of NEOMED

Not only does this promote safety, there is also an increase in office efficiency due to better patient follow-through, such as fewer missed appointments and cancelations, according to Allison Hydzik, a media relations staff member at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

According to Dr. Khaldoun Tarakji of the Cleveland Clinic, telemedicine is used for follow-up doctor visits, remote chronic disease management, remote post-hospitalization care, preventive care support and assisted living center support in more than 3,500 facilities throughout the United States.

According to Hoyson, YSU’s graduate level nursing students are required to perform 500 hands-on clinical hours throughout the course of their program. Students gain hours by working at various medical facilities throughout their program. These range from physician practices to long-term care facilities to acute care facilities.

Hoyson explained the issues with students being able to meet the 500-hour requirement.

“In trying to keep themselves and their patients safe, they really limited the number of people that they allowed in,” Hoyson said, referring to the various medical facilities YSU partners with. “We had students back in spring and early summer that weren’t able to do any of their clinical hours”

Hoyson said a major activity undergoing change in the nursing department due to COVID-19 is the simulated nursing experience. Every semester, the graduate students go to Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) in Rootstown for an exercise. NEOMED hires multiple people to act as imitation patients, and the graduate students must interview, assess and diagnose them.

According to the NEOMED health and wellness report of 2020, due to COVID-19, the university is limiting the number of people at its facilities. This year, their graduate students will have a simulated experience using telemedicine. Through a video call, students will meet with a patient and go through the exercise while gaining first person experience with telemedicine services.

Hoyson had prior experience using telemedicine before the pandemic. 

“I see this becoming more popular as time goes on. We did this in my practice with an older population and they were very receptive to it,” Hoyson said. “They were nervous about COVID and they preferred not to go out.”

According to staff members from the Cleveland Clinic, UPMC and NEOMED, each organization already adopted telemedicine practices.