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Football Players and Nurses Team Up in Villanova College of Nursing Lab


When a football player is surrounded by women and men wearing white coats and scrubs, it typically is pretty safe to assume they are in some serious pain. During a recent interaction, however, the athletes being transferred to and from beds thankfully had not sustained any injuries on the field. Instead, these football players were lending a hand to the sophomores in a Protective Positions Skill Lab – part of the Practicum in Essentials of Nursing Practice course.

During certain lab periods in February, nursing students gained experience in safely pulling up the players – weighing between 200 to over 300 pounds - in a mock hospital bed, assisting them from the bed to a chair, transferring them from bed to gurney and ensuring the “patients” were comfortable.

“It’s good for us to get this hands-on experience, especially with people who are bigger than us,” said student Jacqueline Cembrook. “A lot of the time, we’re working on other nursing students, who are all about the same size. In a real hospital setting, you’ll have to work with men and women who are larger than you.”

Brittany Wyatt, another student, agreed, saying the lab “puts you in an uncomfortable position because you don’t know them - it’s like a clinical experience.”

Stressing their team’s emphasis on volunteer work - around the University and in the surrounding community - the seven football players who volunteered for the lab on the final day said they were particularly pleased to be able to assist the College of Nursing, given the nursing students’ support for the football team’s Andy Talley Bone Marrow Donor Drive held annually around March.

“It also helps you to get a perspective on the different academics at Villanova,” said Clay Horne, a sophomore wide receiver. “It makes you appreciate what the other kids are doing here.”

Jennifer Ross, PhD, RN, CNE, an adjunct clinical instructor, said the course’s instructors hope to do more work with the athletes in the future, noting how important it was for the sophomores to gain insight into what the real world of clinical life may be like. The idea to bring the football players on board originally stemmed from Joyce Willens, PhD, RN, BC, and Colleen Meakim, MSN, RN, worked with the athletic department to make it become a reality.

“They were working with someone who replicates a real patient,” Dr. Ross said. “The students usually do these things on each other, and many of them are women and around 100 pounds. We wanted it to be different.”