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Nursing students take part in job shadowing program

Posted Dec. 10, 2013

Debby Lehman understands the value of a good mentoring relationship on career development. Nearly 25 years after she first started working for RTI Niles as an occupational health nurse, she is still appreciative of the early support and guidance offered to her.

So when Karen Day, assistant professor of nursing at Kent State University at Trumbull, asked LehmanDebby Lehman (far left) with Kent State Trumbull's Karen Day and students from the nursing program. to host students as part of a shadowing program, Lehman welcomed the opportunity to help shape the next generation of nurses.

Each semester, two students from Kent State Trumbull's nursing program spend one morning per week shadowing Lehman as part of the community health nursing course. The course gives students an overview of the variety of nursing positions available in community and public health settings. This is the third year Lehman and RTI Niles have hosted students.

"I enjoy their enthusiasm. They're so close to graduating and they have this whole new world opening up to them," said Lehman. "It's exciting to see them eager to start their careers, and I enjoy being part of that."

RTI Niles is a unique shadowing experience for the students. Day said there are many opportunities for students to shadow nurses in schools, hospices and geriatric care settings, but opportunities to see occupational health nurses at work in industrial settings are becoming scarcer.

"Unfortunately, there are not a lot of them left in the area, but Debby is great with the students and very accommodating," Day remarked. "She takes the time to teach the students what industrial nursing is really about. They learn that you have to be out and about in the plant – not just sitting in an office."

RTI Niles is the one shadowing experience where the students regularly don hard hats as part of their professional attire. An RTI Niles safety coach takes all of them on a facility tour. The students spend the rest of their time shadowing Lehman. On any given day, they might observe her treat on-the-job injuries, conduct annual hearing and vision screenings, give flu shots, or set up a health fair.

"The students are always surprised by how much I have to know about a wide variety of subjects," Lehman said. "But I teach them that occupational health nurses have to be familiar with the variety of work being done in their facilities in order to assess and treat employees' injuries appropriately. There are also numerous licenses and certifications needed to conduct the various test required by OSHA standards."

Lehman, who has an associate degree from Kent State University and a bachelor's degree from Chamberlain College of Nursing, began her career in a skilled nursing facility.

Information included in this article appears courtesy of RTI Advance.