Among all the programs at Davis & Elkins College, perhaps none are better suited to the topic of heart health than the nursing program.
The college offers a two-year associate's degree in nursing, and Dr. R. Carol Cochran, director of the nursing program, spoke to The Inter-Mountain about what the college can offer its students and how that translates to heart health of future patients.
"Part of every nursing class is education for clients," she said.
Being able to provide education for clients is essential, she said, so they can know how to take care of their own bodies outside a doctor's office.
Nursing classes at D&E focus on a number of different issues, including physiology, lifespan development and anatomy. Two offered courses which perhaps best address heart health are the nutrition and pharmacology classes.
Cochran said students are taught how specific medications and diets can affect the health of a client.
Considering diet, she said heart-healthy diets include decreased amounts of sodium and limited amounts of cholesterol and fat.
For any patient, though, Cochran said recommendations come on a case-by-case basis, because no two people have identical needs.
Recommendations for patients concerning diet and medications always are made by a doctor, Cochran said. She stressed that doctors will make a specific diagnosis and nurses must be able to interpret the diagnosis and translate it to clients.
This is where college courses become important, she said. Nursing students must be able to tell their patients, in detail, what the correct course of action is regarding the medications they should take, diets they should follow and exercise plans they can implement.
The D&E website lists externships as a way to hone these skills outside the classroom. Some local hospitals offer summer programs that last up to six weeks, allowing students to increase their knowledge about patients and clinical settings.
Nurses in training, the website says, are able to experience nursing firsthand, which includes patient contact and the opportunity to use their knowledge from pharmacology and nutrition classes.
Contact Casey Houser by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.