How Will COVID-19 Change Nursing School?

How Will COVID-19 Change Nursing School?

Clinical training is essential for America’s future nurses and doctors, and it has been placed on hold due to the pandemic. What’s in store for current nursing students, and how will COVID-19 change nursing school in the future?

Nursing School Changes

Across the country, states are having to update their educational requirements due to the outbreak. Practice facilities are limiting or refusing clinical experiences due to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the risks of infection. Many nursing programs are struggling to adapt to new requirements or are being forced to cancel classes. 

So how will nursing programs that are struggling to meet students’ clinical experiences and requirements adapt? Some programs are offering partial online classes, digital simulations, and hands-on training with fellow students. 

“The COVID crisis calls for innovative ways of delivering clinical experiences, and I can see a major shift in how we do that down the road, long after we get through this first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.” — Beth Beckman, Yale School of Nursing associate dean for clinical partnerships and YNHHS chief nursing executive.

Other programs are being forced to close, halting graduations, and pushing back students hoping to get into the fall programs. 

Palomar Nursing School in San Diego, California, is an example of this. “We have canceled our usual summer application period.” Since they will not have any students graduating from the programs in spring, they can not accept any new students in the fall. Their next application period won’t be until January of 2021.

Digital Simulations

Rather than having clinicals 100% in-person. Some states (such as Michigan) are allowing nursing students to replace their clinical experiences with 100% virtual simulations

Simulations have been used for many years now but for other reasons than pandemics. Simulations help replicate a clinical experience in a safe online environment. Nursing students who take part in educational simulations perform less medical mistakes in clinical settings and are able to develop their critical thinking skills where only a digital patient’s life is on the line.  

To learn more about simulation in nursing education, visit this recent article.

Popular simulation software: 

Hands-On Training With Fellow Students

Although hands-on training has always been a part of learning, more hands-on training with students rather than real patients may be the new normal for a while until hospitals and other training facilities are open to taking students. One of the positive scenarios with training with fellow students over patients is that students can provide real and unfiltered feedback that patients may not have.

Additionally, this allows for the teacher to be hands-on to see where mistakes happen that might not have been caught otherwise. There’s nothing quite like working in real-life situations, much like a movie isn’t the same as a real-life experience, but these additional measures may allow you to learn a little more hands-on before you’re thrown to the wolves. 

In addition to the above, most colleges are transitioning to online classes for all coursework, including chemistry. Chemistry classes have turned into simulations, which not only decreases the risk for students but also helps keep the teacher safe in the comfort of their own home. Additionally, students that were worried about their classmates, making critical errors, no longer need to worry about an explosion happening in the lab since it’ll be simulated online. Many students love this new change because it allows for more flexibility with their work and home life. 

On-Campus Experience 

There’s no telling when the on-campus experience will go back to normal, but there are many colleges that are already taking the precautions to keep students safe. Some of these precautions include the following. 

  • Requiring the use of face masks. 
  • Installation of hand hygiene stalls and sanitizer around the campus. 
  • Temperature and thermal stations to check students’ temperatures. 
  • Additional nurses and healthcare professionals on campus for symptomatic students.
  • Strict staff training on protocols, hand hygiene, and other best practices. 
  • Limiting the number of classes that are in session at any given time. 
  • Limiting classes to only those that are essential to graduation and in-person education. 

If you’re thinking about attending nursing school or are already enrolled, you may be eligible to have your student loans forgiven. If you were working on the front lines during COVID, as a grocery store clerk, at a pharmacy, in a medical role, or more, you could be eligible. To find out more, visit our recent article, “New Bill Could Forgive Student Loans For Workers on the Front Lines of COVID-19“. 

Due to these changes, do you think you’ll want to get into nursing school, or are these changes limiting your desire to get into healthcare? Do you have any additional ideas on how will COVID-19 change nursing school? Let us know in the comments below. 

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About the author

Ashley Carty

Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.

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