Nursing Students, Faculty Prove Flexible with Virtual Learning

Two graduate nursing students monitoring the pulse of a medical simulation mannequin.

Photo Courtesy of Misericordia University ABSN program

Two graduate nursing students monitoring the pulse of a medical simulation mannequin.

Sarah Badorf England, Reporter

Students and professors in the nursing program are still adjusting to the new reality that is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online classes were introduced in the fall semester and have continued into the spring, as nursing students struggle to change the way they think and learn

Dr. Annette Weiss, assistant dean of the program, said she feels that COVID wasn’t easy to adjust to for both students and faculty, which is why it was important for the revised curriculum to be flexible.

“For our clinical experiences, students had to transition depending on hospital and local conditions, in and out of the clinical areas. Students split time between live simulation and virtual, live clinical and virtual, live laboratory experiences and virtual,” said Weiss.

Keira Andrews, sophomore nursing major, said she found that it was hard to keep focus when her nursing classes switched online.

“It’s harder to pay attention in an online setting, We have Zoom lectures, which aren’t facilitating our learning as well as they should be,” said Andrews.

Andrews added that students’ clinical experiences have been negatively affected. Some sophomore nursing students were supposed to do a practice clinical at a nursing home this year but weren’t able to.

Online classes have also affected the way professors are approaching teaching. Weiss said faculty made the most of a difficult situation.

“We went from a resistant and rightfully doubting faculty to a group who is embracing the flexibility of the online environment,” she said “We have found products and solutions to virtually do many things including interviewing and assessing patients in the virtual realm.”

Savannah Baldwin, sophomore nursing major, said she found the online resources given by faculty to be helpful, but she feels she is missing out on more in-depth lessons.

“They give us a lot of online resources to use, which has definitely helped, but we aren’t getting taught as in-depth as I feel that we need to be,” said Baldwin.

Online classes have given students valuable skills, though. Andrews said she has become more organized and adaptable.

“I’ve learned to make do with the situation,” she said. “It’s not ideal that our classes are online, but we had to figure it out and that’s what’s it going to be like as a nurse everyday. You never know what to expect and there will be people that come into the hospital going through different things and it will be my job to figure it out and be flexible,” said Andrews.

Students and professors faced a lot of obstacles over the past year, but Weiss said the department has learned a lot from it.

“The one thing we can all take away is that we are resilient and have learned great flexibility. Nurses can be very set in their ways, and this has drawn us all out of our comfort zones and allowed us to spread our wings and find new ways to enhance our knowledge,” said Weiss.

Maddison Ortwine, sophomore nursing major, said she appreciated how accessible the professors have been during this time.

“The nursing professors really helped with making everything more accessible,” she said. “It’s easier to get in touch because they are constantly checking their emails and they are better about Zoom meetings.”

Ortwine added that she often feels tired from all of the online classes she has had over the past two semesters.

“I have my foundations class at the end of my day and I sometimes fall asleep during that class because I get so tired out from all the classes that I have on those days,” said Ortwine. “I would benefit from being in-person so that I would be able to stay engaged during the class.”

Other students had similar feelings, saying that they are able to consume the information being presented to them more effectively whenever they are in the presence of a teacher in an actual classroom.

“If I were actually in-person, I would take notes and probably do a lot better than I am currently,” said  Baldwin.

While nursing students have experienced some benefits from online learning, they said they look forward to the day they can return to learning in-person.