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How COVID-19 is impacting how nursing students receive instruction

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — OSF St. Anthony College of Nursing President, Sandie Soldwisch, says COVID-19's impact on the school was swift.

"It changed our world. For us it was almost cataclysmic."

Soldwisch says before COVID-19, the program delivered face-to-face instruction in settings like classrooms, clinicals, or simulation labs. However, the pandemic forced learning to happen remotely. She says faculty worked quickly to figure out how to deliver the same instruction virtually. At times, Soldwisch explains students interacted virtually with a "robotic" patient.

"They would have interviews, they could do health assessments because they could manipulate body parts, students were able to learn skills and demonstrate skills."

Soldwisch explains in some cases students could videotape practicing skills on one another and deliver that to professors. She believes the skills are working on remotely are tolls that will allow them to hit the ground running once they're in a hospital or other professional setting.

"They practice them in a safe way," explains Soldwisch. "Then when they get back to a real-life patient they already have those skills. They just need to add in those people-oriented skills."

Ashley Pond is the manager of nursing professional development at SwedishAmerican hospital. Her work focuses both on the continuing education of Swedes nurses as well as new grads and students.

"They're feeling uneasy because they haven't seen patients," explains Pond. "In a pandemic they know they need those skills. A lot of these students we're seeing and new grads we're seeing didn't have a patient at all that last semester."

Pond says the health system is using technology to do the training it doesn't need to do in-person. She explains when nurses are in a hospital or doctor's office their time can be more critically spent on honing in the skills they can't practice on a computer.

"Dealing with the challenges of things like you haven't introduced yourself to a patient in four months. Getting them comfortable in those avenues as well."

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13 WREX Newsroom

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