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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Academics & Research

‘The pandemic has changed everything.’ Yet nursing students trudge on.


College of Nursing Dean Kathryn Tart said the learning experience — including being taught how to properly use personal protective equipment — continues for students despite the coronavirus outbreak. | Jiselle Santos/The Cougar

College of Nursing Dean Kathryn Tart said the learning experience — including being taught how to properly use personal protective equipment — continues for students despite the coronavirus outbreak. | Jiselle Santos/The Cougar

Despite the clinicals they are required to attend throughout the semester have been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, nursing students are still learning the same skills as they would in face-to-face classes.

“The pandemic has changed everything, and as the COVID-19 virus continues to change the world, the basic delivery modes of nursing education are changing abruptly,” said College of Nursing Dean Kathryn Tart. 

Tart said the learning experience is still possible with tools like online virtual simulation of patient care, Zoom classrooms, Panopto lectures and curriculum that meets course and clinical objectives.

“Our students are our focus … and will be prepared to participate in patient care and will not have lost any of their momentum,” she said. 

Nurses, whether they’re experienced or new to the field, Tart said, are at risk of contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and they need to remember to take care of themselves physically and emotionally, meaning mental rest and proper nutrition are essential. 

“Infectious disease control is woven into every nursing curriculum, from learning how to wear personal protective equipment to participating with community health departments to simulate disaster responses,” Tart said. 

These curriculums include how to disseminate information or medication that may be needed in a disaster as well as simulate the use of PPE. 

“We quickly realize that we have to take a holistic approach to personal protective equipment that includes accompanied training for new nurses in the real world,” Tart said. 

The training includes how to correctly use equipment along with policies to protect nurses from becoming overworked and tired.

Nonetheless, the stress can continue for nurses when they return home and want to keep their families from being exposed to the virus.

“At home, healthcare providers may make an extra effort to quarantine themselves away from their families,” Tart said. “They may be living in different areas of the home, like the garage, to protect their families.” 

Thanking a nurse, physician, therapist or any health care official, Tart said, would go a long way, especially in these times. 

“Each of us need to extend patience and grace to ourselves, our family and friends and the nurses and health care workers on the front lines,” Tart said. 

Tart emphasized the need for people to practice social distancing and other measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and keep people out of crowding hospitals.

“Nurses need you to stay home,” she said. “It is the smart and loving thing to do for your community and our nurses and health care providers. 

“You cannot allow yourselves to go out, risk exposure, get sick and overload the healthcare system.”

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