When going online was first announced, I was relieved with the decision since safety was my biggest priority. However, I was also disappointed that in-person clinicals would no longer be happening and switching online abruptly definitely added to the stress that I was already experiencing as an N2. I really had to be more diligent and organized about studying and managing my time, but in that regards, I handled the switch to remote learning pretty decently.
(In the spring) My main problem was adjusting alongside my professors, because if my professors were having trouble, I along with the rest of my classmates would struggle too. The biggest thing was that the instructions they gave us were always changing and on short notice, and this became especially difficult when it came to exams. Those inconsistencies made online learning a lot more stressful and difficult in my opinion, but I also know that no one here has lived through a pandemic before. With that in mind, I think that even if there were room for improvement, the faculty last semester adjusted as best as they could.
I was comfortable with online instruction in the sense that it made me feel safe during the pandemic. I managed to learn the content online but trying to learn on a screen just isn’t as effective as being in-person. I had to study and learn things on my own to a higher degree than before the switch to virtual, especially since some professors chose to not have synchronous lectures through zoom. Because of that, my grades were lower last semester.
Despite the challenges (in the beginning), I really do believe all the adjustments sufficiently taught me what I needed to know. Personally, I think the switch to simulations for clinical was one of the stronger parts of LCON’s switch to virtual learning. All the deadlines and instructions for simulation were straightforward and consistent, and my clinical instructors explained everything we needed to know. In the end, I adjusted well enough to feel comfortable with being online again this semester, but the process was very much a struggle.
I feel safer with social distancing guidelines and other safety measures in place, and I don’t have any complaints about them.
Learning through online lectures and zoom this semester has been easier since I already went through the transition last semester. However, there’s been so many group projects and so much more classwork that I’ve been needing to do that I honestly feel like my workload this semester has been heavier and more difficult than last semester. Communicating with classmates is a lot more difficult with social distancing protocols, and when that’s combined with more projects and assignments that take up time, it makes learning extremely tiring and stressful.
With this semester specifically, I’ve heard a lot of my classmates say that my cohort got the short end of the stick when it came to online classes, and I definitely understand where they’re coming from. We had to abruptly switch during what people called the hardest semester of nursing school, and now during what people said was supposed to be one of the easier semesters, we’re even more stressed because of the workload.
Not being in-person for clinicals has been the biggest disappointment from the pandemic’s effects on nursing school. Nothing beats hands-on experience and interacting with real patients. That’s why I’m really excited to go to the hospital for OB during the next half of the semester.
With that said, there have been several advantages of simulation over in-person clinical. Through both the vSims and the in-person simulations, I’ve been able to safely experience scenarios that I wouldn’t have been able to regularly in a real clinical site. From domestic abuse to anaphylaxis to hospice care, I’ve learned a lot, and I feel better prepared to assess, treat, and communicate with patients going through those various scenarios. Through simulation, I’ve also been able to make mistakes safely and learn from them whereas there’s not as much room for error in an actual clinical setting.
I don’t think the pandemic has hindered my level of expertise/education. If I hadn’t been able to go to in-person clinicals in the beginning of last semester and if I didn’t have the opportunity this semester, then yes, I would say it did. However, because I have had those opportunities, I still feel like I’m on track to becoming a competent and qualified nurse.