Engaging and connecting virtually during COVID

Conversation with LCON Dean, Dr. Lin Zhan

Conversation with the Dean graphic announcing the online discussion with alumni and friends of LCON.

Loewenberg College of Nursing prides itself on keeping an open flow of communication between its internal and external constituents. In this new age of social distancing, finding ways to connect with audiences is key.

Lunch with the deans is a semesterly LCON activity that provides students the opportunity to meet College leadership and discuss import issues and concerns. Because of safety guidelines, students were unable to do so this semester therefore Dean Lin Zhan and Assistant Dean for Nursing Students Eric Bailey II initiated Chat with the Deans, a virtual substitute for students.

They met via Zoom with seven different groups—five from the Memphis campus, one Lambuth group in Jackson, Tenn., and one MSN group—for about 30 minutes to ask them how they are and how they are adjusting to virtual study and so they can share any issues or concerns they might have. The deans are also able to share important updates or information to the students.

“This gives them a direct path to us,” said Dr. Bailey said. “It let’s them know we are here for them.”

Ongoing and regular zoom meeting with students across levels and programs open a virtual setting where students share their struggles, their ability to adapt, and their passion for nursing. Students’ voices, stories, and/or perspectives are listened, shared, and appreciated. Students noted that the virtual gathering has made them feel “human connection.”

In the time of uncertainty and complexity, communication helps reach understanding and clarity. Dean Zhan has used Zoom to communicate with donors and alumni, and practice partners. On Aug. 3, she held A Conversation with the LCON Dean, a virtual conversation about preparing nursing students during the COVID-19 crisis and advancing the vital mission of LCON. The conversation was moderated by Dr. Belinda Fleming, director of the MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner program. In November, Dean Zhan provided the college update to Dean’s Advisory Council members and dialogued with more than 20 chief nursing officers about challenges and strategies dealing with the COVID Pandemic and how, in crisis, we lead with passion and purpose.