Benefits of clinical experience

Engaged learning is essential to the TU experience. In the fields of nursing and clinical psychology, a unique partnership between The University of Tulsa and St. John Health System helps students transition successfully to the working world.

“St. John/Ascension is proud to partner with The University of Tulsa on the Regional Onboarding Center and True Blue Neighbors Behavioral Health Clinic,” said Mike Mullins, senior vice president of Ascension and interim CEO of St. John Health System. “Both projects are an extension of our mission, which focuses on serving people in their time of need.”

In 2017, St. John partnered with TU to open the Regional Onboarding Center within TU’s Oxley College of Health Sciences at 1215 S. Boulder Ave., in Tulsa. The onboarding program is designed to guide nurses and other clinical professionals through a specialized orientation and hands-on clinical training. St. John shared TU’s facilities while building out its own floors including the Lawson Family Nursing Simulation Center and Skills Lab.

Nurse onboarding staff development specialists from St. John Hospital include: (from left) Julie Whitford, MSN, RN, OCN; Cathy Lovelace, DNP, RN, PCN; Janet Field, MS, RN, CWOCN; and Gaye Rotramel, MS, RN. TU School of Nursing team members include: (from right) Helen Hansen, PhD, clinical assistant professor and Sheryl Stansifer, DNP, APRN-CNP, director of the TU School of Nursing.
The partnership expands the students’ experiences of working with patients in a simulated setting. “The opportunity to have this onboarding center in our building is a win-win situation for TU and St. John,” said Dean Robin Ploeger. “Our programs will definitely benefit by having St. John share our space, and the possibilities of additional ways our institutions can partner together are exciting.” Typically, St. John hires a good number of BSN and DNP graduates each year. The St. John onboarding program is one of three within Ascension’s 2,500 sites across the country.

St. John/Ascension also supports TU’s True Blue Neighbors Behavioral Health Clinic that provides affordable and empirically supported psychological assessment and treatment services to underserved groups in particular, residents of the Kendall Whittier neighborhood in Tulsa. This past year, the Ascension Foundation became the chief donor to the program with a large operating grant.

The gift has made it possible for psychology graduate students to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom while being supervised by TU’s licensed clinical psychology professors.

“The clinic provides our students with opportunities to learn empirically supported psychological treatments for various behavioral health issues including how to conduct evaluations to determine problems,” said Associate Professor of Psychology John NcNulty.

Rachel Lee is a fourth-year student in the clinical psychology doctoral program who has been working at the clinic since it first opened in 2015 and is now the clinic’s associate director. “The clinic has helped my training experience by giving me the opportunity to see clients of all ages, presenting problems and socioeconomic backgrounds. The clinic benefits both the students and the members of the community because our services are free of charge,” she said.