This semester quickly took an unexpected turn when students learned they would not be returning to campus due to COVID-19. Over the last several weeks, students have transitioned to online classes, which will be the norm for the rest of the semester. However, for students in need of experiential learning hours – like nursing majors – the new normal is particularly challenging.
Many nursing students, specifically juniors and seniors, go to a hospital during the normal semester to attend clinicals. This is not only required by Harding, but by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Due to the pandemic, Harding canceled in-hospital clinicals for the semester, leaving nursing students to learn in a new way.
Senior nursing major Claire Fergeson said she is feeling a mixture of understanding and disappointment. She said she knows patients’ health is the priority, and it would be irresponsible to put the need to finish hours for classes over a person’s well-being. However, nursing students rely on clinicals for professional experience and are now having to rely solely on their books for that knowledge.
“Clinical judgment is very important for a nurse, and it’s through clinical experiences that we are able to build on that,” Fergeson said.
Junior nursing major Alli Morris said as difficult and frustrating as it is to study nursing from home, being flexible with learning environments will teach its own kind of lesson.
“It gives us the opportunity to truly absorb what is happening in the world,” Morris said. “We will come out of this with a better perspective, and we will be better nurses for it.”
Morris was also saddened that she cannot be in the hospital helping and doing what she is passionate about.
“I feel helpless; I watch the news, and I feel this connection with the nurses that I see, yet I am sitting at home,” Morris said. “I am frustrated that I can’t do clinical [work] in the hospital and contribute in this time of need, but I know that staying home is exactly what the hospitals need us to do.”
Senior nursing major Adriana Kurowski said she is worried about not attending clinicals because nursing is a hands-on profession. She said she fears that not everything can be taught effectively online. However, in the midst of the stress, Kurowski said she tries to take a more positive outlook on the situation. She said she has felt supported by the nursing faculty through this difficult transition.
“I’m just trying to keep a positive outlook,” Kurowski said. “The professors are doing a great job of accommodating us in this whole situation. They’ve already been proactive and given us clinical assignments to do online to help us catch up with our clinical hours.”