Teaching Telehealth

New program trains nursing students for remote care

Grace Buchta leaned intently toward her computer screen and considered the questions flooding her mind.

Could she clearly see and hear the elderly patient in this telehealth visit? Did he have sufficient privacy for their session? And most important: Was he ordinarily short of breath—or so distressed that he should call 911?

“There’s so much going on when you’re doing health care remotely that you can easily forget something,” said Buchta, a third-year student at Case Western Reserve’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. She spoke with the “patient” during a video simulation that accompanied a four-part telehealth course at the school that debuted in the spring. “I learned so much about telehealth and virtual nursing, but also just how to be a better nurse overall.”

“Telehealth just exploded when COVID-19 came along and many typical health care avenues closed down,” said Barb Tassell, DNP, RN, a research associate at the nursing school and an education consultant who co-designed and oversees the program. “To train nurses of tomorrow, we had to move quickly.”

More than 400 students at the school—and about a dozen faculty members—have completed the online multi-module program, now part of the nursing school curriculum. Mary Dolansky, PhD, RN (GRS ’01 nursing), the Sarah C. Hirsh Professor at the nursing school, received a U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration grant to create the program, which is now available to practicing nurses everywhere.

— Mike Scott