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This past month, Bethany Life wrapped up hosting first semester clinicals for 11 nursing students at Iowa Western Community College. Once a week for six weeks, the students obtained authentic, hands-on nursing experience in a long term care setting. They were given the opportunity to practice skills and work on techniques that they learn about in class. Bethany Life’s Infection Preventionist and Wound Nurse Tara O’Connell led the students during their six weeks here, offering valuable insights and feedback as they spent time with the residents. “I want to be a support person for them,” said Tara. I want them to succeed and I will do everything I possibly can to help them.”

 Following the completion of their clinical rounds here at Bethany Life, the students will continue on their road to become a nurse. They received competency reports from Tara and their instructor based upon their performance of specific, practical nursing skills they demonstrated on the residents. When asked about their time spent here at The Households of Bethany and experiences with the residents, one student responded “Everyone just seems to have a great relationship with the residents, especially with Tara. They all seem to really love her and smile when she comes in.”

There are few people at Bethany Life better equipped to mentor future nurses than Tara. Tara has been with Bethany Life since 2009 and received her education from Mercy College of Health Sciences. For 14 years, Tara has gained a fundamental understanding of what goes on inside the walls here as well as what it means to be a successful nurse at Bethany Life. Once a nursing student herself, Tara remembers what it was like as she worked to complete her clinicals. She recalls how she felt early on in her career and used the memories to help influence how she guides the students that are here. “I always felt like I was being a nuisance when I was a nursing student and that some of the nurses I got paired up with were not the most approachable,” said Tara. “I wanted the students that were coming to Bethany Life to feel welcomed and have the opportunity to improve their skills in an environment that challenged them to grow.”