COVID-19 has seen traditional face-to-face learning and workplace cultures rapidly transform into an online environment and this has been no different for nursing students. We caught up with Josh Thomson MACN (Undergraduate) — a Stage One ACN Emerging Nurse Leader — to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted his enrolled nursing studies.
How has COVID-19 altered what a ‘typical day’ looks like for you?
A ‘traditional’ day used to go from 8 am to around 2.30 pm. It is difficult to engage that long in front of a screen without tuning out. My university uses a platform called Blackboard Collaborate Ultra which is similar to Zoom but has more interactive education features such as a whiteboard. Class now goes for around 90 minutes and the rest of the day is self-directed. We are working on how to condense the material, but the challenge is getting to the same end goal we would have had pre-COVID-19.
What challenges have been involved with this new learning environment?
Nursing is not a course you can do without face-to-face contact. We don’t sit there and go over PowerPoint slides, that is the expectation of what you do at home. In the classroom, we sit down and have a conversation about the topic and trash. Obviously, that is quite difficult to do in an online environment which creates a hard dynamic.
What strategies have you implemented to adapt to this new style of learning?
I have really enjoyed the new challenge. I need structure and routine and this online learning environment has really engaged me to create my own, so I am still getting up in the morning with purpose. This is a time to show our preparedness as nursing students. I think we will reflect on this when we are out in the workforce practising as a development of our organisational and forward planning skills.
How are you being supported by your university staff during this time?
The support of my university has been absolutely incredible; they have a success coach who pops into classes to check in on everyone. They are hosting regular study sessions and building skills on how to study online. The university has adapted quickly and is alongside to help us through this time.
How has the transition to online learning changed the social aspect of the student experience?
Social connection is probably the thing I miss the most. A month before this happened, we set up a social media group and that is how we are all communicating at the moment. As things kind of go on and we are preparing for assessments and certain practical skills we will start connecting more through video — whether that is through Zoom or WebeX — and set up a blackboard session. For now, we are managing how to keep that collaboration going as we are so used to being together. We are navigating that by keeping in constant contact and involving everybody.
What does it feel like to be a nursing student in the times of COVID-19?
I feel a little bit helpless because I want to be out there on the front line but I realise the best thing is we can be leaders in our own community and households when it comes to social distancing and isolation. How do we as nursing students lead that charge? We can support our front line team by staying home and doing what the government has asked us to do.
This is a really good opportunity for us to dig deep, learn and prepare ourselves for life as nursing professionals. The reality is COVID-19 will eventually settle, people will move on with their lives and go back to some sort of normal. The reality is hospitals won’t stop treating patients and people won’t stop needing help. If we commit ourselves to our study that is the best thing we can do to support our nurses on the front line because it will mean that when they need to take a break or change their job role we are ready to jump in and get support. This [COVID-19 pandemic} gives us time to learn and the opportunity to grow.
Australian nurses and nursing students, we want to hear your COVID-19 stories! You can share your experiences on Twitter using #NurseCOVID19stories or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a short (100 word paragraph) outlining your story. If you are interested in being interviewed for a story or contributing to our NurseClick blog, please also email email@example.com.