Policy Brief: U.S. Nursing Leadership – COVID-19 Crisis

Policy Brief: U.S. Nursing Leadership Supports Practice/Academic
Partnerships to Assist the Nursing Workforce during the COVID-19 Crisis

Released on March 26, 2020


This policy brief is the collaborative effort of nursing leaders who propose and support academic-practice
partnerships between health care facilities and pre-licensure registered nursing (RN) and practical/vocational
nursing (PN/VN) programs across the country during the COVID-19 crisis. This is one potential model to
consider. It is not mandated, rather an innovative approach to meeting academic and workforce needs.

The proposed model requires cautious evaluation at the local level with a clear understanding that:

• The participation of student nurses and faculty is voluntary and must comply with any additional
requirements mandated in state emergency response provisions or through existing Occupational Safety
and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements;
• The safety for all front-line providers of services across multiple points of care must be safeguarded
through appropriate and prevailing infection control practices


• COVID-19 is a virus affecting the entire world. To date, thousands of people in the U.S. have tested positive
for the disease, and it is anticipated that many more will be affected in the near future. After observing the
pattern of the virus, the U.S. anticipates an overabundance of patients inundating hospitals and possibly
overwhelming the entire U.S. health care system.
• A significant demand is being placed on the entire nursing workforce, and this is anticipated to increase at
an alarming rate.
• Simultaneously, the pandemic has affected pre-licensure RN and PN/VN nursing students across the
country. Clinical experiences with patients are an essential part of every nursing program curriculum and
are mandated by the State Boards of Nursing for licensure. Many hospitals and health care facilities have
determined that pre-licensure RN and PN/VN nursing students should not be in contact with patients and
have discontinued student clinical experiences in their facility. Without this valuable experience, all nursing
students will have a deficit in their education, are unable to meet their program requirements and will not be
eligible for graduation at a time when RNs and PN/VNs are needed in the health care system.


• Health care facilities and nursing education programs are encouraged to partner during the COVID-19 crisis.
• Pre-licensure RN students from diploma, associate degree and baccalaureate degree nursing programs and
PN/VN students from certificate nursing programs could augment and support nursing services in health
care facilities.
• Nursing students would be employed by the facility on a full- or part-time basis and would work in the role of
a student nurse for compensation and, in conjunction with the student’s nursing education program, would
receive academic credit toward meeting clinical requirements.
• Nursing students would be required to be enrolled in a State Board of Nursing approved (or its equivalent)
RN or PN/VN pre-licensure program.


This opportunity will not only provide much needed clinical education to assist in meeting program
requirements, it is an unparalleled opportunity for nursing students to assist the nation in a time of crisis
and learn the principles of population health and emergency management. This academic-practice model
demonstrates that in the midst of a periling disruption in the environment, such as COVID-19, continuous
innovation can occur.


1. Health care facilities and nursing programs are encouraged to promulgate plans to take advantage of
this opportunity and make every effort to reach out to eligible nursing students and inform them of the
2. Health care facilities and nursing programs are encouraged to collaborate to identify ways to accomplish
appropriate faculty supervision of the nursing student-employee to achieve the final learning outcomes
of the nursing program. For example, the health care facility could hire the nursing program faculty to
oversee the nursing student-employee, the nursing program faculty could hold joint appointment by the
college/university/school and the health care facility, or the health care facility-employed preceptors
could oversee the nursing student-employee with nursing program faculty oversight.
3. Nursing program leaders/faculty are encouraged to work with health care facility representatives to align
clinical skills and competencies with the nursing student-employee work role/responsibilities.
4. Nursing student-employees must have planned clinical practice experiences that enable the students
to attain new knowledge and demonstrate achievement of the final learning outcomes of the nursing
5. Nursing programs should consult with their State Board of Nursing to ensure clinical requirement
regulations would be met with this opportunity and experience.
6. Nursing programs are responsible for informing nursing students of the risks and responsibilities
associated with working in a health care facility at this time. Additionally, nursing programs are
responsible for communicating with students about their rights to be protected from infection and their
options for completing the clinical practice requirements of the nursing program.


National Council of State Boards of Nursing
National League for Nursing
American Organization for Nursing Leadership
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc.
Organization for Associate Degree Nursing
NLN Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
National Student Nurses’ Association