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  • Sincerely, Southern

How nursing students have adapted to 'zoom university'

By Eliel Ramirez

The world shut down when the coronavirus took over. It left businesses closed, cities became ghost towns, people stuck at home, but schools stayed open, virtually.

With the ability to spread through close contact and through the air, it made it difficult to be in the same room as others without the fear of contracting the virus.

Schools took a big hit having to figure out a way to close its doors, but continue educating the students. They were forced to adopt a virtual way of learning.

Colleges and universities around the world had to send students home, leaving many with the task of adapting to an online way of learning.

“It was important to go online because having large groups of people together was not safe,” Wilekia Mayes, senior teaching assistant, said. “If we had continued in-person learning we ran the risk of parents pulling students out of school so it was just easier to just switch to online learning.”

Mayes said the challenge was switching all the curriculum to an online format.

“Staring at a screen all day isn’t fun,” she said. “Finding new resources to make virtual learning fun and effective was difficult.”

Going virtual seemed like an easy fix, especially for students in programs such as accounting or journalism. But for students in more hands-on programs such as nursing, it left them lost and feeling unprepared.

“I definitely would not say going virtual last year was ideal,” said Jarred Warren, a graduate accounting major. “It sure made learning harder, especially because the profesor wrote the notes on a white board and it was difficult to read them through the screen.”

Hands-on programs such as nursing, became a challenge for students as they had to go from in-person clinicals to virtual clinicals.

As hospitals were closing because of the pandemic, educators had to teach using simulations to replace in-person clinical experiences.

“Going virtual totally ruined our learning,” said Ana Mora,a recent grad who is now a nurse at the Aiken Regional Medical Center on the cardiac floor. “Some hospitals adapted to a longer orientation when hired to offset the learning needed to work since we missed it.”

Nurses were already stretched thin during the chaos, applying that on top of having to make sure unprepared students are keeping up with them just added to the stress.

Mora said that a lot of the nurses were worn out from over working because the patients did not want a student nurse.

“Nobody wanted student nurses,” Mora said. “I can’t blame them though, I wouldn’t want someone who was getting a degree from zoom university.”

Being a profession in the medical field, the professors in this program understood the severity of the virus and had to go to great lengths, creating new ways to teach the material.

Educators were forced to teach through a camera.

“What we were learning online, is not even a percentage of what we learned in person,” said Mallory Mayhue, a senior nursing major. “Patients' [problems] aren’t black and white like they are in textbooks.”

Both Mayhue and Mora had the same response when asked their opinion of the difference between virtual and in-person learning. They said that the major difference between virtual and in-person is the patient.

“Once you have them in person, it’s like you’re looking at the patient as a whole person with a lot of problems,” Mayhue said. “Rather than looking at a fake simulation focused on one issue at a time.”

Virtual simulations allowed students to practice techniques and challenge their medical knowledge to better prepare for a real-life situation. However, it still seemed to be a problem.

Mora said she had nurses that refused to have students because they did not have the time to teach them something they should have learned before arriving there.

Hospitals were forced to extend their orientations in order to better prepare new hires for the job.

“Some hospitals adapted to a longer orientation when hired,” Mora said. In order “to offset the learning needed to work since we missed it.”

She said that she felt comfort going into her field because they accommodated her year of residency to include more hands-on education that they may have not gotten in school. Such as taking care of the patient, seeing the procedure and their recovery.

Hands-on learning was challenged greatly through the pandemic. Students around the world suffered thanks to the virus.

Mora said that she is just glad she graduated and got a job, because now she doesn’t have to stress about it anymore.

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