UT nursing program adjusting to lack of hands-on learning

by Lindsay Price

Moving to online classes for the remainder of the spring semester has provided new challenges for professors and students at The University of Tampa. The nursing department has relied on a hands-on, experiential learning approach in the past, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to alter their methods.

Class meetings have been hosted on Zoom, and it has fallen on the shoulders of the professors to make the necessary changes to ensure that the online classes provide a proper academic environment. The announcement that students would not return to campus came only days before spring break was set to end, so there wasn’t much time for preparation.

Margo Dailey, a junior nursing major, explained that it would likely take time for students to become adjusted to the new methods. The first week of online classes presented some difficulties, with modifications to the syllabus and a shift to an online lecture format, according to Dailey.

“Things feel extremely different outside the physical classroom because our professors are very active in the ways they teach us which makes it difficult to do over a computer screen or audio recording, but they are doing a great job with the circumstances,” said Dailey. “It’s also hard for our clinical aspect of learning because we are unable to be in the hospital and learn through hands-on experiences.”

Lexi Grigg, a junior nursing major, praised her professors for adapting to the major changes. She expressed her appreciation for how they worked with students and altered the curriculum to fit the current circumstances.

“It is very different not physically being in the classroom but I do think using Zoom has actually worked out pretty well. Unfortunately, I do think the lack of hands-on-learning will be an issue moving forward, especially with nursing,” said Grigg. “Since half of our time is usually spent in hospitals, getting real life experience, it is going to be difficult to try and continue learning without that. But again, I am so lucky that our professors have done their best to work with us and give us alternative work to try and mimic our clinical days.”

Melissa Cole, lecturer of nursing, is taking multiple steps to manage the online transition in her classes. She is using the technology platforms at her disposal, such as Blackboard and Vid Grid, and is communicating regularly with her students. Her classes also involve uplifting activities such as “funny hat day” to lighten the mood, and journaling about the experience for future reflection.

“I am stressing the fact that I will attempt to make the least amount of changes as possible in the content, in order to make sure transition to online is as painless as possible,” said Cole. “Some of our evaluations include addressing hands-on clinical experience, so I have adapted the evaluations to include any virtual scenarios I send them to evaluate and address as if they were there observing the scenario. We are continuing with student presentations during class and the students have done extremely well with this up to this point.” 

Lindsay Price can be reached at lindsay.price@spartans.ut.edu

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