By Adilina Rotella

“Faculty are reporting that students are demonstrating an increase in demonstration of critical thinking skills” said Audrey Kilcoyne, Interim Director of Nursing Professor of Nursing, “One freshman faculty stated her clinical students demonstrated basic nursing skills by providing a video demonstrating what she had taught them remotely.” This is such a great idea for teacher to be able to make sure students are keeping up with their basic nursing skills. Kilcoyne has done her research and has found out that “increase critical thinking skills is something I am also hearing across the Commonwealth and the United States via online discussions with other administrators on the National League of Nursing and Massachusetts Rhode Island League of Nursing (MARILN) chat.”

What is the downside of this change? That is what some might wonder as nursing is a very hands-on program. Kilcoyne stated that “The most telling downside is the lack of hands-on teaching in the lab and clinical settings. The second half of last semester, no students were allowed to attend in-person clinical. This semester, our sophomore students have been able to attend in-person clinical at Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital this semester; thus, providing them the necessary hands-on experience that our accreditation agency, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) requires.”

Nursing classes aren’t like regular classes where there is maximum 22 students, nursing classes “are a maximum of 72 students in some courses” said Kilcoyne. Most people did not know of zoom before classes were switched to online. “Zoom was not only access to, but how does one teach to a large class?.” It was a big change for teachers to learn how to “create breakout rooms, set up interactive questions (polls), take attendance, and teach to a large number of students on a computer screen. Some faculty created their lectures in advance, putting them in Moodle as YouTube presentations or voice over PowerPoints,” said Kilcoyne.

Another difficult area for teachers is that preparation for online teaching was “more time consuming than face to face,” stated Kilcoyne. Another question to think about is are there any qualifications that students can’t complete right now because of remote learning? Fortunately, the “nursing program is granted licensure approval from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing and accreditation from ACEN. Nursing course are meeting the set regulations that these two agencies require. Thus far, we have been able to meet and will continue to meet these requirements leading to graduating safe, well-prepared nurses who will pass the licensure exam,” stated Kilcoyne.

It is exciting to hear that the Nursing Program is still succeeding despite all the regulations regarding COVID-19. It is surprising to hear that there has not been an increase of students who have withdrew from the course or have decided to put a halt on their education. It will be very interesting to see how the program will change throughout the pandemic and are looking forward to seeing all the incredible future nursing students.