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BC3 R.N. students to showcase research to public

Logan Barnhart takes the blood pressure of a simulated patient inside the new Victor K. Phillips Nursing and Allied Health Building
Logan Barnhart, foreground, of Chicora, a student in Butler County Community College’s associate degree career program in registered nursing, takes the blood pressure of a simulated patient inside the new Victor K. Phillips Nursing and Allied Health Building on BC3’s main campus in Butler Township in August. Submitted Photo
Nearly 80 from 12 counties to present findings in lobby of new facility

Nearly 80 students who intend to graduate in May from Butler County Community College’s career program in registered nursing will present research findings on 18 topics to the public this week at the Victor K. Phillips Nursing and Allied Health Building.

The free evidence-based practice research presentations are scheduled from noon to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in the facility’s lobby on BC3’s main campus in Butler Township.

Students in BC3’s 70-credit Nursing, R.N., program will discuss Tuesday with visitors research on nine topics that include “Effects of Instagram on teenage girls and anorexia,” “Do private rooms promote healing?” and “What is the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction for anxiety and stress in health care workers?”

Students will discuss Wednesday with visitors research on nine other topics that include “Telehealth,” “How does promoting touch in palliative care patients affect patient outcomes?” and “How do eight-hour versus 12-hour shifts for nurses affect patient care?”

Butler County Community College nursing students study outside a simulation room
Amber Barger, right, of Butler, and other students in Butler County Community College’s associate degree career program in registered nursing, study outside a simulation room within the new Victor K. Phillips Nursing and Allied Health Building on BC3’s main campus in Butler Township on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023. Submitted Photo

“Our students are thinking the way they should be,” said Patty Annear, dean of the college’s Shaffer School of Nursing and Allied Health. “Our curriculum promotes that progressive type of thinking so that our students are well-versed in the issues that there are today in health care and certainly in nursing.”

Topics chosen by students “are very worthy for health care providers and consumers alike,” Annear said. “It would be interesting to know how the care I am getting as a consumer might be impacted by a nurse who is on an eight-hour shift or a 12-hour shift. Or if I have a daughter or a son who might be having problems with body image, what can we maybe do to prevent that?”

Their curiosity about the topics was inspired by BC3’s courses and by clinical experiences at health care facilities such as Butler Health System, Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Valley Hospital and Concordia Lutheran Ministries, said Heather Darrington, an assistant professor in the Shaffer School of Nursing and Allied Health.

“Their experience in clinical is the reason they can see that there are topics that need to be researched,” Darrington said. “They see things in clinical. They see patients on the floors in clinical. They see policies or procedures or processes that gets them thinking.”

Alicia Switlick, a 27-year-old Karns City resident who earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Slippery Rock University in 2018, is among five BC3 students who will discuss research named “How does social media affect the mental health of adolescents, and can registered nursing education improve this?”

“I really do think the public can learn something from us,” Switlick said. “A lot of us have picked topics that we have seen firsthand or experienced firsthand. We all have social media. We’ve all grown up in this very techie world.”

Students in BC3’s associate degree career programs such as Nursing, R.N., can develop the skills needed to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation.

Registered nurse is among high-priority occupations in Western Pennsylvania, according to the state Department of Labor & Industry’s Center for Workforce Information & Analysis.

“Many of these students will likely be staying in the Butler region, which is the intent of being the community’s college,” Annear said. “I think it’s evident by how they are thinking and by their projects that we are certainly producing those good nurses for the future and for the future care of Butler County.”

Seventy-nine students representing at least 12 Western Pennsylvania counties intend to graduate in May from BC3’s main campus Nursing, R.N., program.

Bill Foley is coordinator of news and media content at Butler County Community College.

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