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For Immediate Release
November 17, 2020

Nursing Students Perform Student COVID-19 Testing Earning Clinical Hours, Experience

Suffolk County Community College Nursing students are conducting COVID-19 testing on the College’s campuses as part of an innovative program that helps the College community as well as the students who earn required practical health care experience. The State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor mandated COVID-19 testing of students who attend classes on the college’s campuses.  

 “When mandatory testing became a reality, we were faced with a difficult decision,” said Interim College President Louis Petrizzo, “divert staff from required duties or hire additional staff during a budget crisis. Dean Cheryl Schaffer’s innovative solution not only saved the College money and resources but created an educational benefit for nursing students, providing real world public health experience in the midst of a pandemic and doing it safely and smartly.”

During a typical semester, nursing students would be deployed in hospitals throughout the county earning clinical hours by conducting patient assessments, checking vital signs and working with hospital professionals. Out of an abundance of caution for students’ health and safety the nursing students were removed from in-hospital clinical practicums last spring.

“We were very happy to answer the call to help Suffolk County Community College with the Chancellor’s mandate for COVID testing on our campuses,” said College Associate Dean of the School of Nursing Cheryl Shaffer.

“The nursing students are performing the testing and learning about infection control, diagnostic testing, and documentation and it’s giving them some autonomy, that they would not have necessarily gotten in other clinical settings, to resolve issues, clinical reasoning and make some decisions to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID,” Shaffer said. 

“This is a unique community health experience to be able to experience and be students during such an unprecedented time where we have a lot of challenges to overcome. It’s really great to be part of the solution and to help as a nursing student,” said nursing student Sarah Santiago 

"The COVID-19 student testing centers on Suffolk’s campuses are a testament to the leadership and capabilities that nurses bring to the clinical setting every day," said Interim College President Petrizzo. "I'm proud of our students, faculty and staff whose teamwork successfully launched our program.”

The College’s SUNY mandated pooled saliva testing program has collected 3,381 samples as of November 10 yielding two positive results.