Page 20 - HealthcareNews May/June 2021
P. 20

through this program, especially with COVID,” she told HCN. “I have two small children; they were home all day, and I had to manage their education while I was trying to manage my own, and I felt that I did so very successfully. And the empower- ment that I feel and the change that I feel in my own self-awareness has been more than I ever thought I would get out of an education.
“It truly changed my life,” she went on.
“And I really want to thank the faculty be- cause I didn’t know I could do hard things, and now I know I can do hard things, and be very successful.”
Grade Expectations
As they move on from the classroom — and the many forms that word takes — to nursing jobs at area hospitals and other healthcare providers, members of the class of 2021, and those who taught them, know they will be under a microscope of sorts.
“All eyes are on these students,” said Lisa Fugiel, dean of Nursing at STCC, noting that they will be watched because their education was so different from all the nursing classes that came before them, and there are logical questions about whether
it was as complete and effective in making students ready for all they will face as they start their career as nurses.
“This group had one semester of normal- cy, and the rest of their time was during this pandemic,” she went on. “Everyone will
be looking at them; we’re looking at them — we want to see their success with the NCLEX [nursing exam], and providers will be looking at them to see how they transi- tion from academia to practice. We always look at that, and we work together to make sure we’re providing the best education for them to transition well, but obviously, with all these changes, when these students get jobs, their employers will be paying close attention to this group because they want to make sure that they’re transitioning just as easily as past graduates.”
‘Normalcy’ was a word just not heard very often after March 2020. That’s when everything in the broad realm of nursing education changed, and in a profound way.
  Continued from page 18
That anecdote relates just some of the myriad ways COVID has changed nursing education, with some of those changes likely to become permanent parts of the landscape, such as virtual programing
and even greater use of simulators at area schools. But it only scratches the surface when it comes to conveying the full extent of all the innovating, adapting, and balanc- ing of life, learning, and work, as well as the camaraderie and shared triumph (if that’s the right word) over extreme adversity.
And doesn’t fully reflect how, in the minds of the nursing administrators at area schools, the collective experiences of the past 15 months — everything from adjust- ing to new forms of learning to coping
with new challenges, to actually working in hospitals and other settings during the pan- demic — might make these students even more job-ready, to use a phrase common in this sector and others.
“Our students experienced, in a way that none of us who haven’t been on those front lines can contemplate or know, what the human condition is in the face of a global pandemic,” said Kathleen Scoble, dean of Nursing at Elms College. “They saw and observed the emotions that healthcare workers were going through, and also patients and family who were separated ... these students experienced all that, and I think it enhanced their professional devel- opment in a way that other graduates have not had.”
As for the students, those we spoke with said COVID made an already-challenging time in their lives that much more so — and on many levels.
Indeed, while they were balancing school, life, and (for most of them) work before COVID, the pandemic put more balls in the air and the juggling act that much more daunting as they dealt with everything from trying to learn at home (sometimes with young children present) to getting regularly tested for COVID, to
By successfully navigating all that COVID threw at them, Kathleen Scoble says, recent nurs- ing graduates enhanced their professional development.
This group had one semester of
normalcy, and the rest of their time was during this pandemic.”
    “Now I know, going into the field, that any challenge that is thrown at me, whether it
be with patients I have or changing within a facility, or anything like that, I know that I can take on that challenge. This experience has given me that confidence.”
trying to keep themselves and everyone around them safe.
Jessica LaFortune, a member of Holyoke
adjustment, moving from all in-person learning to an all-remote model, then to a hybrid approach her last two semesters.
Jessica LaFortune, seen here receiving her nursing pin from Kayla Alien- gena, chair of HCC’s associate of science in nursing program, says that her COVID experiences pushed her to “step up to the challenge.”
 Community College’s class of 2021, de- scribed the last three of her four semesters in nursing school as a time of constant
This adjusting on the fly should serve her well in the ‘real world,’ which will start with a job at Baystate Medical Center in one of its step-down intensive-care units, said La- Fortune, adding that her experiences taught her a lot about healthcare and nursing — and even more about herself.
“Making all those adjustments was a challenge, but it pushed me to step up to that challenge,” she explained. “And now
I know, going into the field, that any chal- lenge that is thrown at me, whether it be with patients I have or changing within a facility, or anything like that, I know that I can take on that challenge. This experience has given me that confidence.”
Label agreed.
“I saw a change in myself as I progressed

   18   19   20   21   22