COVID-19 and Student Nurses

As I write this blog, we are in the midst of the Coronavirus-19 pandemic and nursing education is a challenge to say the least. My program has moved at breakneck speed from face to face to online learning and our clinical experiences have become virtual. I am struck by the disconnect nursing education is experiencing. At a time when more manpower and nursing care is needed, and hospital systems are overwhelmed, nursing students are excluded from participating in the realities of this major public health crisis. As the former Director of the VNA of Chicago, I appreciate the extra attention of supervising new learning during a crisis, however, the lack of participation by committed learners is unfortunate. Are we missing the boat? Several of the nursing faculty in our program work in hospitals on a part-time basis and witnessing firsthand long lines of people waiting to be tested for the virus, emergency rooms crowded, and intensive care units filled. Are we protecting our students, our patients, and faculty, OR walling them out of a major learning experience?

One tactic we are using is unfolding case studies. Nurse Keith has developed a case study of a patient with COVID and students gradually learn diagnostic information and select interventions for the “patient.” Our population health faculty member is inviting students to work in food pantries and other community settings to get some firsthand observations of the impact of the virus.

Gratefully the Illinois Board of Nursing is temporarily relaxing requirements for clinical practice until the virus subsides. It is my hope that nurse educators review our response to the virus, identify lessons learned and collaborate on how to integrate our students into this event and others going forward