As part of the Delirium Prevention Program, Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J., offered a volunteer healthcare externship for college students with a focus on delirium prevention during summer 2009. For eight weeks, 16 college students became volunteers and received four hours of delirium and bedside patient visitation training.
The students visited patients designated by the nursing staff as at-risk for delirium on the medical/renal unit, and engaged the patients in social activities such as conversation, reading magazines, completing crossword puzzles or playing cards. The students are majors in pre-med, nursing, psychology, occupational therapy and healthcare management.
Michele Elkins, MD, medical director of geriatrics, and Rita Dyer, RN, geriatric nurse practitioner, provided the impetus and clinical background for the program, while Kristen Houghton, manager of the volunteer department, and Sandi Goerner, coordinator of volunteer services, recruited the volunteers. Terri Bernaz, RN, manager of the orientation and education department, and Cornelia Gilpin, RN, manager of the medical/renal unit, validated the competency of the students on the unit.Playing cards is one way the students engaged patients. Students, from left, Aixa Navia, pre-med major, Gettysburg College; Christine Reilly, psychology student, Catholic University; nurse Terri Bernaz, RN, manager of the orientation and education department; Kristel McGhee, nursing student, College of New Jersey; Evan Berger, pre-med student, New York University; and Melissa Mojar, nursing student, Seton Hall University.
When the externs werent volunteering, they were encouraged to shadow other departments. Norman Luka, MD, medical director; Mary Pat Sullivan, RN, MSN, CNS, chief nursing officer; and Ann Oliva, Overlook Hospital Foundation director, thanked the students during a ceremony at the completion of the summer program.
Overlook will offer the externship again from June to August. Applications will be accepted in March. For information, contact Terri Bernaz, RN, at 908-522-2052.