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‘Clinical Scholar’ Role Gives Experienced Nurses the Chance to Teach at AHU


Hannah Schumacher is a nurse caring for some of AdventHealth Orlando’s most vulnerable patients in the neurological intensive care unit. She provides hope and healing to victims of strokes, car accidents, and spinal cord injuries as well as their families -- a role that calls for Schumacher’s expertise, empathy and resilience.

Schumacher, who acknowledges the emotional impact of working in an ICU, said she feels fortunate to find a way to complement her vital role as an ICU nurse. Schumacher is one of five nurses in a newly created nursing role called clinical scholar. These clinical scholars spend two 12-hour shifts caring for patients in the hospital and then spend their third shift serving as a clinical instructor for nursing students at AdventHealth University. As part of either Adult Health I or Fundamentals classes, Schumacher teaches seven to eight students, three weeks in a simulation lab and seven weeks on a hospital unit, caring for patients.

“I love seeing the students grow from scared and cautious to being confident in their role and getting ready to go out on their own. They are starting to put the pieces together,” Schumacher said, her eyes growing bright, her passion evident.

During the pandemic, the U.S. saw firsthand the rewards and risks nurses face each day and gained insight into high turnover rates in the nursing profession. The Florida Hospital Association projects the state will have a shortage of 59,100 nurses by 2035, the result of a mixture of factors, including population growth, an aging population, baby boom nurses retiring, and nurses leaving the profession. AdventHealth nursing leaders continue to work diligently to discover and implement innovative solutions to not only stem the nursing shortfall but also improve job satisfaction for nurses.

This new dual role that bridges the academic and clinical sides of nursing is a win in so many ways, nursing leaders said.

“It’s a win for students, a win for the university, a win for nursing retention, and a win for AdventHealth,” said Kathy Gover, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, vice president of nursing practice and innovation for AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division. “This gives clinical staff the opportunity to do something different from working at the bedside. This alleviates some pressure while keeping nurses at the hospital bedside. It also gives them a gentle, beautiful entry into the academic world of nursing.”

Schumacher wholeheartedly agrees. “I’ve noticed a significant difference in my own personal job satisfaction,” she said. “I was feeling really burnt out. When we are on academic breaks and I go back to my three-shift week on the unit, I noticed a big difference in my mental health and energy level.”

Colleges and universities also are experiencing a shortfall in nursing faculty, coming at a time when nursing schools are being called upon to increase their nursing-student enrollments, so this new role helps to meet those demands.

Students also are reaping the benefits of having an instructor who earlier that week was taking care of patients and their families.

“Students appreciate getting knowledge from a nurse who actively is in practice,” Gover said.

Perpetual “Angel” Fernandes Hoare, a clinical scholar who is a registered nurse on the cardiology intensive care unit at AdventHealth Orlando, said she sees students benefit from the hands-on experience as they prepare to transition to a first-year nurse. “I try to make it a safe space for them, where they can ask questions and learn from mistakes. I try to make learning fun.”

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