The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March — two months before the next wave of nurses were to graduate from Sandhills Community College’s Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program.
“The initial thought of most students was fear,” said Madalyn Prevatte, who will graduate from the program in May. Recognizing this, nurses and SCC educators Hannah Altergott and Holly Eatmon created a social media lifeline — SCC Nursing Inspo — to send the message “that we were supporting students even though we were really learning alongside them.”
Months into a pandemic that’s changed nursing curriculum across the country, we caught up with Hannah, Holly, and ADN program Department Chair Lynne Phifer to see how the next generation of nurses are taking on COVID-era challenges.
Becoming a Nurse Seems More Intense Than Ever. Why Do It?
Holly: “When you come home from a 12-13 hour shift, you don’t have anything left. You put all you have into it, and, as corny as it sounds, it’s a real chance to make a difference every time you go to work.”
Has the Pandemic Changed Nursing?
In short, no — just put more focus on healthcare as a whole.
Holly: “I think that nurses are really being put in the spotlight right now, but it’s a chance to show what we do. We were made for it, and I feel a little guilty sometimes that I’m not out there.”
Madalyn: “This pandemic has united not only nurses, but the entire healthcare field to work as a team. Enduring these changing times through nursing school makes us feel even more proud and lucky to be registered nurses in a short time.”
How Has the Curriculum Adapted?
By any means necessary. Many of the program’s students were already in the healthcare field, and many were forced to quarantine as a result. When access to space needed for clinical experience was limited, lessons were delivered online. Materials for hands-on assignments were delivered through car windows, and students turned in videos of themselves completing them.
Hannah: “The curriculum hasn’t changed, but the delivery has. It’s challenged it, and changed it in others for the better. It made us think outside the box.”
How Has Instruction Adapted?
The thing about nursing is that everything about the profession is constantly adapting: for aspiring nurses, those working in a clinical field, and those educating the next generation.
Lynne: “Being in the education role is a unique position because you have to know how to take care of patients. You have to know hospital policy. You have to know how to collaborate and build innovative teaching lessons in both worlds that you’re immersed in. It’s a great opportunity, but a challenge as well.”
Partnerships with FirstHealth also allowed students to see COVID case studies and attend orientations specific to how the hospital system was handling the pandemic.
What’s the Future of Nursing Education?
For one? Virtual reality. Specifically at SCC? A new building that will allow the college to increase enrollment with new cohorts twice per year.
“There will be jobs in nursing for a long time,” Lynne says. “There’s plenty of openings now, and there will be in the future.”
For more on SCC’s nursing program, visit sandhills.edu/nursing/