Programs for enrolled students
One of the more innovative of our socialization programs is our pioneering orientation program, called “Surviving the Bubble”. This program was developed by one of our own graduates, Jennifer Ferguson, based on her own extensive experience with team-building activities as a long-time camp nurse. Recognizing that students feel isolation analogous to being encapsulated in a “bubble”, Ferguson custom-developed this program to introduce students to the concepts of teamwork, interpersonal communication, problem-solving, goal-setting, and time-management as they relate to navigating a nurse anesthesia program.
Ferguson is assisted in implementing the program by Kat Vanden Heuvel and Aimee Jones. Kat, a long-time Resident Camp Director, has over 12 years peer facilitation experience, and Aimee is currently a Resident Camp Director and has 6 years peer facilitation experience. Together, the team brings their collective experience to provide a very meaningful and effective program.
The program is held at the Piney Lake Experiential Education Campus of UNCG or on the campus of Wake Forest University. During the one-day program, new students participate in various physical activities as well as group discussions.
Students begin the day by sharing their perceptions about anesthesia school.
They then paticipate in "ice-breaker" activities to set the mood for the day's events.
The serious work begins with exercises that challenge the students' ability to accomplish tasks using alternate means of communication.
Students learn to accomplish precision tasks which require absolute efficient teamwork for success.
Project manager Jennifer Ferguson observes her team at work.
The activities foster trust and commitment toward one another, while also giving students the opportunity to learn more about each other.
Teamwork is the theme of the day, and many exercises require good teamwork for success.
The afternoon sessions focus on keeping a positive attitude and attending to social and emotional needs of being a student.
Students hear an inspiring story from Ken Leonard, who lost both legs in Iraq and returned to achieve police officer certification.
Students meet in "mirror groups" of those in similar family situations, where senior students share success strategies for time management and work-life balance.
Students develop their personal goals and mission statements related to the nurse anesthesia program.
Finally, the class comes together to formulate a group mission statement and an understanding between themselves as to how they would tackle the difficult years ahead.
The goal of the course: a group of recent strangers becoming an interdependent team.
What some participants said about “Surviving the Bubble”:
“It was a wonderful day that exceeded my expectations. I enjoyed it.”
“Very real. Fun, too. Great balance. Eight hours of activity that will mean a lot in the next two years. Strongly recommend this!”
“Discussing real life situations gave us guidance and some reassurance as well.”
“Today was great! Thanks so much! I really feel that our class bonded together as a team and as a new “family”. The exercises built trust and confidence in each other.”
“I enjoyed learning to work together as a team with strangers (who are no longer strangers after today!)”
In other social orientation programs, efforts are made to provide students with helpful resources prior to large transitions. Starting in the spring before the program starts, students are invited to join a discussion board and to utilize a chat room to get to know their new classmates. In the 5 months prior to the start of the program last year, students posted 160 messages as they made connections with their prospective classmates.
Once in the program, prior to starting clinical, students are paired with both a senior student advisor as well as a faculty mentor. These resource people provide a “friendly face” in the OR, and someone the student can go to with questions, problems, etc. without the apprehension sometimes associated with bringing every concern to their instructors.
Just prior to starting clinical, students and CRNA mentors get together for a breakfast to discuss the upcoming phase of the program and allay anxieties regarding clinical practice expectations.
These orientation programs support our vision of Creating Excellence in Nurse Anesthesia: to produce practitioners who possess an awareness of their role and who are comfortable taking a leadership position in the health care system. Development of the Surviving the Bubble program was also completed in fulfillment of Jennifer Ferguson’s Service Learning requirement: an opportunity for students to expand their leadership and management abilities beyond the typical realm of clinical anesthesia.