October 15, 2020By Lance Baily

How These Healthcare Educators Are Overcoming COVID-19 Disruptions

Healthcare Educators, especially those utilizing medical simulation, have been forced to overcome massive challenges due to the Coronavirus pandemic. But as some clinical simulation educators report “If there’s a bit of a silver lining to COVID-19 for nursing students and faculty, it’s been the opportunity to use nursing simulation to create meaningful and safe patient scenarios for students they might not have the chance to experience in a traditional clinical placement.” Here, we take a closer look at how some healthcare programs are dealing with reduced clinical rotations, shut down campuses, limited nursing simulation boot camp and tele-education.

3 Professors Reveal How Nursing Schools Are Adapting to COVID-19Nurse.org spoke with 3 nursing educators from three different states to hear how they were coping with nurse education during the Coronavirus. Kevin Cummings BSN, MS, RN, Nursing Program Manager & Adjunct Faculty Member at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia says that “students are given the opportunity to attend classes in a set weekly rotation” in what the program refers to as “pods”. Cummings explains “the pods are groups of students that attend lab, clinical, and in-person didactic offerings together” to limit exposure of students to other students not in their pod. At Marymount, Cummings describes nursing labs as “socially distanced” and says students are required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when attending labs. In addition, he says “students are screened for COVID symptoms prior to arrival to the lab via a COVID Symptom Tracker App….upon arrival to the lab, student temperatures are taken for screening purposes.”

For students at Carrington, some hospitals began allowing students to return to clinical areas the last week of September 2020 and into the first week of October 2020. However, Scott says these facilities have “severely” reduced the number of students they’re permitting back into the hospital as well as the number of hours students can be in the hospital units. Cummings states some clinical sites have reduced the size of clinical groups they allow to half their pre-COVID allotments. He says “clinical education has become very strict with guidelines for patient care” and students are being well trained on PPE procedures.


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Jeanne Carey, MEd, CHSE, RN, Director of Simulation at Baylor University in Dallas, Texas explains “even in the pre-COVID world, learning in the traditional clinical setting was becoming more restricted by shorter lengths of stay for hospitalized patients, higher patient acuity, and policies that impose more and more limitations on what students are allowed to do in a hospital setting. Some argue that the traditional clinical experience is becoming one of observation, rather than performance. Simulation stands in stark contrast to this as it allows students to perform a wide variety of skills, both technical and non-technical, without risking harm to patients and ensures that all students get the learning opportunities they need.”

Christina L. Scott DNP, MSN, RN, Nursing Faculty at Carrington Nursing College in Phoenix, Arizona and says nursing students at Carrington must undergo screening and testing for the virus two weeks before the start of their clinical experience. She explains “depending on the clinical site students need to obtain a test for COVID-19, however, for school they do not need to have a test”. She says students must also have their temperature taken before coming into the school. And if students have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, they’re not permitted back to school for two weeks.

Pandemic-Related Modifications Safeguard Training For Rutgers‒Camden’s Future Nurse Workforce: The Rutgers-Camden News Now group shared how “Rutgers University–Camden nursing faculty and administrators responded quickly by modifying teaching and learning to ensure safety while students receive quality access and training to prepare them for their careers in health care.”

The article continues that “In mid-March, the Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden suspended clinical training; many students did not have the opportunity to work with nursing equipment or directly interact with patients as part of their nursing training due to the high incidence of COVID-19 in the community and across the nation. Virtual classes were created so that students could increase their knowledge in specific clinical content and concepts. Instructors described a patient’s symptoms and asked students to offer a diagnosis and a course of treatment.


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“Students had the concepts, but they didn’t have the actual motor skill, the tactile ability, or muscle memory, to do the task,” says Penny Smith, a nurse and a simulation specialist at the Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden. To prepare students for the clinical training that resumed this fall, the nursing school held an in-person boot camp for more than 270 Rutgers‒Camden nursing students over six days in mid-August.

“The boot camp encompassed a vast range of basic skills necessary to begin working with patients in the hospital setting,” says Jillian Schleuter, an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing student. The Marlton resident had some clinical training in the Rutgers‒Camden nursing labs before the pandemic, but the boot camp gave her valuable hands-on experience with hospital equipment. In the clinical simulation lab, students worked through a health care scenario with a computerized mannequin that talks, has breath sounds, and responds to the actions that students perform as they move the scenario forward. This allows the nursing student to get a feel for what would happen when caring for a patient in the hospital.

To ensure safety during the pandemic, every student is required to wear a mask and a face shield, and only six students are permitted in a lab at a time, instead of the usual 12, to maintain social distancing.”

Telesimulation‐based education during COVID‐19 (Diaz et al): By promoting a realistic, collaborative, safe, hands‐on, learning environment, simulation allows interprofessional teams to come together and practise both routine and high stakes, low‐frequency events. The COVID‐19 pandemic and the need for social distancing have shifted traditional simulation‐based medical education towards a virtual platform: telesimulation. Telesimulation is an evolving field and the speed at which clinical educators need to adapt to use this platform is unprecedented.

Educators must quickly navigate and leverage the differences between traditional simulation and telesimulation to create robust remote educational experiences. Telesimulation has unique goals and objectives, technology needs, and participant roles that need to be understood and properly operationalized to maximize opportunities for learning. This article reviews the authors’ recommendations for developing and delivering successful telesimulations.

Telesimulation as an educational platform is in evolution. This manuscript provides the authors’ perspectives about ways to develop and deliver SBE and training to learners during the COVID‐19 pandemic. The feedback from our own telesimulations has been overwhelmingly positive with participants indicating that this is an interactive, thought‐provoking way to learn as we navigate the pandemic. We have seen this success both with telesimulations run by a single facilitator in a remote setting and with telesimulations run in a simulation centre with ample resources.

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