March 5 Message to Dental, Medicine and Nursing Communities: Guidance for Students Participating in Clinical Activities

To CWRU Students in Our Dental, Nursing and Medical Schools:

Among the many issues that the COVID-19 outbreak raises is one that directly affects many of you—that is, the clinical nature of parts of your education. In that context, the university would like to share some guidelines to help protect students, staff, faculty and patients.

*NOTE: Additional nursing-specific guidelines can be found at the end of this message.

All students should exercise universal seasonal flu precautions:

  • Do not come to school/hospital if you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue (discard the tissues safely) or your elbow
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or sanitize with a solution of at least 60% alcohol frequently. When you enter a learning environment, wash in and wash out like you would if entering a patient room. Also do the same before and after touching common surfaces like keyboards, touchscreens etc.
  • Avoid touching common surfaces like handrails with bare hands if possible. Otherwise sanitize your hands immediately thereafter.

In addition, we recommend the following:

  • Curtail elective experiences such as non-curricular shadowing.
  • Avoid volunteer or community service activities that bring you into contact with large groups of immunocompromised people (e.g. nursing homes).
  • Monitor the CWRU and CDC COVID-19 Updates

Students in the clinical phase of their training:
With appropriate equipment, training, and supervision, students are permitted to engage in the care of all patients as part of the learning process.

When doing so, however, you must have:

  • Training by direct observation, watching a video, or reviewing this card on the donning of hospital specific Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
  • Appropriate supervision.
  • Fit testing for N95 mask, if available at your clinical site. If you have not been fit tested, you may wear an N95 mask on a voluntary basis, but you still you should avoid aerosol-generating procedures.

Please be aware that PPE is scarce, and so may not be available for students. In this instance, students are not to participate in the direct care of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.

The university will provide additional guidance as circumstances warrant. Meanwhile, if you have questions regarding COVID-19 and clinical activities, please contact the individual(s) your school or program designates for those inquiries; in the absence of such guidance, contact your school’s academic dean.

Thank you,
Sara Lee, MD
Executive Director of University Health and Counseling Services

*Guidelines for nursing students in the clinical phase of their education, based on their programs

For pre-licensure students (BSN and MN):
Faculty will not assign pre-licensure students to any patients or clients who have flu-like or suspicious symptoms. Students will not participate in the direct care of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection at any clinical or community setting which means clinical will be suspended in such settings. The school will consult with the Ohio Board of Nursing to make adjustment in required clinical hours if clinical are suspended for any period of time.

For advanced practice nursing students (MSN):
Students who encounter a patient with suspicious or flu-like symptoms will be directed to immediately inform and hand off the patient to the clinical preceptor, and then to inform the responsible School of Nursing faculty member. If a clinical or community-based facility has a confirmed case of COVID-19, the affected student's clinical placement will be suspended.

For research fellows (pre- and post-doctoral fellows):
Data collection by research fellows will be suspended in a clinical or community facility if a confirmed case of COVID-19 is reported in that facility.