UTA rural nursing student fosters lasting community partnerships

Tuesday, Jun 04, 2024 • Midori Hrinda : Connect

yellow stethoscope on wood table

When Macie Mayes, a University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI) student in the Accelerated Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (AOBSN) program, asked to complete her capstone in her hometown, she opened the door to a lasting relationship between CONHI and Methodist Hospital Hill Country.

Mayes began her journey in the AOBSN program in 2019, searching for a career path that would allow her to complete her education and find a job close to her hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas. She was intrigued by CONHI’s AOBSN program because of the flexibility it offered.

Though her classes were online, Mayes had to travel two hours away to San Antonio, Texas, for her clinicals, as there were no partnered facilities near her hometown.

“In the AOBSN program, I completed my online classes throughout the week and attended clinicals on the weekends at Methodist Hospital San Antonio,” said Mayes, RN. “Though traveling hours away for my clinicals was not ideal, I am grateful to have trained in a larger hospital. I learned more about different specialties that smaller, rural hospitals cannot perform.”

Determined to complete her capstone in Fredericksburg and at the facility where she hoped to work, Mayes took the initiative and contacted Methodist Hospital Hill Country. The capstone is a comprehensive, integrative experience that allows nursing students to demonstrate their skills for professional practice.

“I spoke with Methodist Hospital Hill Country and asked if they would allow me to finish my capstone there and connected them with UTA,” said Mayes. “Fortunately, the hospital and UTA made it possible to complete my capstone at my ideal facility. A year after completing my capstone, I was training new UTA nursing students where it all began. It was a rewarding full-circle moment.”

This opportunity showcases how nurses are paving the way for quality healthcare in rural areas. Mayes’ determination and eagerness allowed her to complete her education locally and opened doors for future students.

“One goal of the UTA Center for Rural Health and Nursing is to partner with rural facilities to provide clinical experiences for our BSN students which allows them to learn about patient care through the lens of a rural hospital,” said Pamela White, Clinical Assistant Professor, SMART Hospital & Simulation. “Macie’s placement at Methodist Hospital Hill Country was pivotal in establishing a lasting relationship with this facility, and she paved the way for future students to complete clinical hours at this facility.”

Her advice to aspiring healthcare professionals in rural areas is to not be afraid to ask. “Do not be afraid to ask your local hospital if they would allow you to be a student there,” said Mayes. “It is a beneficial relationship for both sides. While life in a rural area can have more challenges due to distance and availability, technology, such as online classes, has opened many opportunities. I’m happy to see there are more opportunities for nursing students in rural areas.”