Not so long ago, attending a nursing program meant losing control over your schedule to participate in a brick-and-mortar program. Fortunately, a rise in technology and the availability of accredited online nursing school programs have made it possible for busy parents and professionals to advance their careers by fitting online education into the times that work best for them.
Some BSN Pre-licensure nursing programs have moved into the virtual space to avoid disruption among growing social distancing requirements. Phyllis James, BSN Pre-Licensure Program Director at Aspen University, shared with Nurse.org, “[I] was tasked with overhauling parts of their online nursing program that included in-person clinical rotations to prevent disruption of student learning during the current shutdown.”
In response to anticipation of clinical cancellations and limitations in face-to-face contact, her faculty and staff developed a strategic plan with the goal of having the number and quality of experiences to complete the clinical, lab, and simulation components of the course in a “virtual environment.”
Systematic processes were developed so that there is consistency in every course.
Students are briefed before each clinical, lab, and simulation.
Each virtual clinical, lab, and simulation begins with a pre-clinical or pre-brief to outline independent student activities for the day via Zoom or the learning management system (LMS) virtual classroom. Aspen’s LMS is D2L which gives users direct access to high-quality Video Assignments and Virtual Classroom technology.
After the pre-brief, students work independently on unfolding case studies or scenarios utilizing various media platforms (videos, v-clinicals, etc.). Students meet back with faculty after a prescribed time for debriefing or post-clinical. Each course is aligned with the course objectives and a focus on the application of clinical judgment skills.
Hands-on experience is still provided.
Pharmacology and Fundamental classes are provided with supply kits, assembled by faculty and staff to demonstrate and record skills which can be remotely evaluated. The students also video and record physical assessments performed on family members for the health assessment course, which are also evaluated by faculty.
Initial feedback by students has been encouraging. While some students were skeptical at the beginning, many students report this “immersion” environment enhances learning and understanding.. Faculty report increased student engagement and enriched faculty-student relationships.
Online education is more attainable than ever.
“Studying online offers you the flexibility to manage personal obligations such as family, school, and work,” says James. “But that much flexibility will mean that you will need the self-discipline necessary to complete your nursing studies online. Without a structured classroom schedule, you will be responsible for making sure you have enough time to read through the class materials and complete your assignments on time.”
Online learning need not limit personal interactions with classmates and faculty if all parties take advantage of the various methods of online social interactions. Online students can help keep themselves engaged by connecting with other online students to create groups for study sessions or reminders for upcoming assignments or tests. Today’s LMS has tools that increase student interaction and cater to a variety of learning needs. Learning to navigate in the online format can help to advance technology skills essential in today’s healthcare environment.