The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the critical need for nursing students to be knowledgeable in isolation techniques and competent in the use of personal protective equipment.

Caring for patients in isolation can be a daunting experience for nursing students. In addition to learning new nursing skills, they must learn and apply infection prevention and control practices. Use this quick round-robin exercise on isolation topics to help your students identify isolation precaution guidelines and the differences between them.

Prepare slips of paper with topics such as those listed below. It may be helpful to use the exact terminology used within your unit and facility. (NOTE: this exercise can also be replicated in an online learning situation by randomly assigning each student a different isolation topic.)

  • Hand Hygiene
  • Standard Precautions
  • Contact Precautions
  • Airborne Precautions
  • Droplet Precautions
  • Special Precautions – Protective Environment
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Wearing and Removing
  • Chemotherapy Precautions
  • Psychological Implications of Isolation for Patient and Family

During a post conference, place the slips face down on a table and have each student pick one. Depending on the length of time you have available, allow students approximately two minutes to prepare their topics. Although they can use resources that might be readily available, encourage them to first tap into their own knowledge from class, and what they may have already learned on the unit.

Next, give each student two minutes to present their isolation topic to the group. To complete the exercise, allow the group another two minutes to add content. You may want act as the recorder to capture the quick facts during presentations, as a potential handout for the students after the exercise.

The purpose of the time limit is to promote critical thinking, get students to ‘think on their feet,’ and rely on their knowledge base. As the instructor, you should fill in any important content that may have been missed.

Thanks to Erika Meyerhofer-Pankow, MSN, RN for submitting this student exercise. Erika is a clinical instructor for Concordia University School of Nursing, who teaches at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s – Ozaukee, 3 South.

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