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In a world turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing education faced unprecedented challenges as entire curriculums shifted to a virtual format. Both educators and students were suddenly thrust into a new learning environment, stripped of the personal touch and one-to-one interactions that once defined the nursing student experience, as described in the story by Faculty Focus.
Before the pandemic, supporting nursing students on probation or at risk of failure involved one-on-one meetings with educators. In these sessions, they would assess the students’ learning styles, study habits, test-taking skills, and their lives outside the classroom, ensuring they had the necessary support systems in place.
As the pandemic raged on, the way educators supported students changed dramatically. Online meetings replaced in-person sessions, and the absence of exam review software made assessing individual exams a challenge. Educators and students alike had to learn new virtual meeting platforms, adapt to technical difficulties, and embrace flexibility and adaptability—valuable traits for nurses to possess.
In this brave new virtual world, educators focused on teaching students time management, self-control, and self-motivation. They encouraged students to actively engage with course material, using techniques like Socratic questioning, online sample questions, and various study strategies to help them succeed despite the challenges. All the while, educators continued to support students emotionally and academically. To better illustrate the differences in nursing education before and after the pandemic, refer to the table below:
||Before the Pandemic||After the Pandemic|
|Learning Environment||In-person classes and clinical experience||Virtual classes and limited clinical experience|
|Student Support||One-on-one meetings with educators||Online meetings with educators|
|Assessment||In-person review of exams and notes||Challenges with reviewing exams and notes online|
|Meeting Platforms||Face-to-face interactions||Adapting to multiple virtual meeting platforms|
|Teaching Techniques||Demonstrating study strategies in person||Adapting study strategies to a virtual environment|
|Holistic Student Assessment||Easier to assess well-being through in-person cues||Difficulty assessing well-being through online cues|
|Personal Connection||Direct contact with faculty and peers||Reduced personal connection due to virtual format|
Throughout this turbulent period, the importance of holistic assessment in nursing education became clear. Educators realized that in-person interactions were invaluable for understanding students’ well-being, from their appearance and facial cues to their eating habits. This personal connection between faculty and students is crucial for helping them thrive and become the exceptional nurses the world needs.
As the dust settled and the world began to heal, the pandemic left behind a legacy of lessons learned. Flexibility, adaptability, and the importance of personal connection emerged as key themes, reminding us that nurturing the next generation of nurses is about more than just academics. It’s about fostering strong relationships, understanding students holistically, and supporting them on their journey to becoming compassionate and skilled healthcare professionals.
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