Nursing Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic

I have always felt the need of making a difference and becoming a nurse was my way to achieve it. I knew that as a nurse I would be able to make a positive effect on the lives of many patients, providing them with care when they need it the most. However, my prospects of graduating as planned have become vague in the light of the pandemic of COVID-19, which has shaken the world and made multiple learning opportunities unavailable.

The ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019, also known as COVID-19, is a severe acute respiratory syndrome. Being highly contagious and deadly, it has led to extreme economic disruptions and caused many changes in the day-to-day life of numerous institutions and organizations. Most of the sporting, cultural, and religious events have been postponed or cancelled along with the majority of schools and universities, which have switched to distance learning or closed altogether.

The epidemic has made a drastic impact on many medical students, including myself, who need clinical experience to be able to finish their education. Under normal circumstances, medical students in graduate programs make a required number of in-person visits to healthcare facilities, where we can observe and learn from experienced clinicians and obtain practice in hands-on procedures and providing physical assistance to patients in distress. Such immersive education has become impossible in current conditions because of coronavirus-related restrictive measures. Medical students are kept away from clinical rotations because of COVID-19 safety and logistical concerns, which has made an impact on students of various medical programs. As for nursing schools, in particular, the required number of hours of direct patient care for graduate students has been supplemented with virtual simulations.

This situation has radically affected my education in that I am no longer able to continue my hands-on practice, which I needed to improve my weaknesses. My aspirations for the residency were to work on my pharmacology background, and get familiarized with more medications. I was also hoping to master my time-management skills, as issuing prescribed medications to patients used to be challenging by itself, while I will have to learn to combine it with documenting the process. To be more specific, my goals for the end of residency were to familiarize myself with fifteen new medicines, to be able to care for five patients by myself and to correctly organize a list of patients by priority as approved by my preceptor at the start of each shift.

Due to the ongoing pandemic and the changes in the clinical rotation, I was not able to receive the required 14-day clinical experience. As an unfortunate result, some of my goals were not met, specifically, I did not have a chance to learn to assist five patients at once on my own, nor did I improve my time-management and prioritization skills. However, I am grateful to have received some virtual learning experience, which undoubtedly could not completely replace the actual clinical residency, but in the light of the ongoing pandemic turned out to be rather beneficial for my education.

In summary, the epidemic of COVID-19 has affected the learning of many students, including myself. It has deprived all of us of the regular graduate clinical experience, where we could have improved our professional skills and overcome our weaknesses. The pandemic has changed our way of learning and practicing, too, in that they have become mostly virtual. Along with newly emerged safety protocols and guidelines, social distancing and sanitation rules have become widely spread and meticulously adopted by medical personnel and other people. These precautions will remain of high importance for the length of the pandemic and are sure to become a part of my professional routine afterwards.