The COVID-19 pandemic had affected all aspects of life. Nursing students, you are all too familiar with the impact this virus has had on your education.
This effect is unmistakably evident in canceled classes, canceled graduations and the switch to online courses. By now, you are probably becoming quite skilled in using online course software programs such as GoToMeeting and E-Lectures.
The clinical component of your nursing education is perhaps most affected by the pandemic. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s March 20, “Considerations for COVID-19 Preparedness and Response in U.S. Schools of Nursing” suggests continuing clinical placements needs to be decided based on a school’s policies and the facilities in which students have their clinical placements.
The National League for Nursing’s March 10, 2020, letter to nursing educators emphasized the same approach.
With the additional recommendations from the AACN and the NLN, some nursing students may still be in a clinical placement. Others may be in simulated labs or using telehealth options, while others are providing patient care through virtual reality.
Regardless of how you are faring with the interruptions in your educational program, your disappointments in not progressing toward reaching your goals to graduate, become licensed and beginning your nursing practice is disappointing at best, despite knowing others are suffering even more adversities, including death.
There is hope out there as changes are being made that will help alleviate, to a certain degree, some of the disruptions.
What’s on the horizon for nursing students?
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing announced NCLEX testing is beginning again in a limited capacity. Click here for more information and register to take the exam.
For Texas graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses, the governor extended the temporary authorization to practice/temporary permits for graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses to 6 months from 75 days. The expansion allows nurse graduates to continue to practice until they can take the licensing exam. Additional details can be found on the board’s website.
Changes will come, albeit slowly and not always directly affecting your specific educational situation. So, how can nursing students best cope with these distressing times and the interruption in your nursing education? Here are some tips:
- Follow CDC guidelines and your state mandates concerning hand washing, social distancing, and stay-at home orders unless travel/work is essential
- Be certain to care for yourself generally and if you’re exhibiting symptoms
- Get tested as soon as you can and follow medical advice
- Although there is much talk about care resources being scarce and the potential difficulty to be hospitalized if you need it, keep your health insurance in full force
- If you can volunteer in a health facility that allows student nurses to provide care, do so, but follow its policy and protocols, so you can contribute to the care of those who desperately need knowledgeable and compassionate care.
- If you are volunteering and providing care in any manner, be certain to use whatever PPE is required.
- Review your professional liability insurance policy and its provisions concerning volunteering as a student nurse.
- Continue to participate in your school’s online courses and continue your educational program as much as possible during the pandemic.
- Volunteer in ways not directly associated with your nursing educational program. For instance, a group of UW-Madison School of Nursing students arranged to watch children of healthcare workers so they could continue caring for patients.
- Keep in touch with your educational program in order to be updated with any developments and stay in contact with your fellow nursing students via Skype, FaceTime, etc.
Adjustments will most likely continue to be made during the pandemic to nursing students’ current educational and licensure requirements — by your school, by testing organizations, by your state board of nursing — that will help reach your goals of graduation, licensure and practice.
In the words of David G. Allen, “Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.”