Nursing majors receive valuable experience in clinical training as they continue to learn skills during a global pandemic.

Lectures have moved online, while labs and clinicals remain in person. Students in clinical training are not placed on COVID-19 floors in order to save PPE for registered nurses and doctors.

However, with the rapid increase in cases, certain floors and units may abruptly turn into COVID-19 treatment areas, or non-COVID-19 patients may contract the virus.

“At first I wasn’t working with COVID patients,” said Logan Perry, a senior nursing major. “Then one day when I came to work I saw a notice that my floor now required N95 masks. I knew it had been changed to a COVID unit.”

Perry said working on a COVID-19 unit for clinical training while balancing class work has been challenging. 

“In the hospital I work in, 40% of staff is on leave due to contracting the virus, so part-time and PRN workers are forced to take over,” she said. “The pandemic is truly a nightmare.”

As health care workers fight the virus, their mental health is put at risk.

“Patients never leave our minds after the shift is over,” Perry said. “They can’t have visitors, so staff becomes their family. It takes a toll on us as well to be distant from our own families while helping others.”

Perry said she hopes the stigma around mental health challenges will continue to change during and after this pandemic.

Nursing faculty and staff work hard to be responsive and flexible to the needs of their students.

“Our faculty members are nurses themselves, so we know how to help support our students during this time,” said Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Tracey Motter.

Nursing advisors help provide resources to students, and the nursing program has an emergency fund to help students with possible issues such as limited access to a computer for online courses, Motter said. 

While the pandemic has presented challenges to nursing students, it has also provided a helpful learning experience.

“COVID-19 has enhanced nursing students’ curriculum as they have an opportunity to see a pandemic in action and learn more about the health care side of it,” Motter said.

Working on a COVID-19 unit has given Perry valuable knowledge as she deals with the pandemic first-hand, she said. 

“I have learned so much from being thrown right into it and I value my experience so much,” she said. “Even though I rarely get five minutes to sit down, I leave work every day knowing I did all I could for my patients, and I’ve seen how rewarding it is when a patient rounds the curve and starts showing recovery signs.”

Megan Medfisch covers health and fitness. Contact her at mmedfisc@kent.edu.

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