The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all aspects of life. One such aspect in education, and specifically for you nursing education. The pandemic literally stopped all forms of interactions. Schools closed with students and lectures staying back home. This happened in the midst of a health pandemic whereby more healthcare workers were needed to help fight it. Some health educators have argued against closing of health training institutions as you need research and training more professionals to go on. While others maintain that these should be done in a safe environment for both the students and the instructors.
Where were we?
Nursing education has been more of one on one interaction. Which is done in class, skills lab, hospital and community. This was enabled by close interaction that you had before the new pandemic restrictions of social distance. There was the use of technology to teach some modules, especially for advancing students. This was done in collaboration of one on one interaction. You had one on one interaction more during your training.
Where we are?
With the pandemic, all training came to a standstill. Some have restarted with the use of technology with some challenges. Most nursing schools in the Africa and developing countries did not have e-learning platforms. Some had but were either underutilized or not used at all. With the transition quickly taking place, it has been an uphill task to develop and use these systems. Hospital training has stopped, can we replace this? Some universities in America have initiated use of technology in hospital rounds for instruction. So you have someone in the hospital with a video giving instructions. There has been a lot of discussions supporting and against it among health professional peers and it remains to be an area for more research.
Where we are going?
There some people who believe things will never be ‘normal’ again, while some believe it’s just a matter of when not if. For nursing educators, the training of competent nurses is non-negotiable whatever the circumstance. There is the feeling that technology can replace class instruction but there is overwhelming evidence against that. Nursing education is complex because of the practical aspect which cannot be replaced. You have skills labs where students practice many competencies before physically meeting patients. It helps build the confidence and skill and it gives more room for instruction. Hospitals where most of the training is done are no longer ‘safe’. This will be a major challenge as hospitals are on high alert with limited PPEs. I however believe it’s the right time to be hospital trained as a nurse.
Conversations between nurse training schools and all stakeholders should continue on resumption of training. We are losing healthcare workers to the pandemic, some are not working because of various reasons like age etc. We already have a shortage and therefore we will need more healthcare workers. Healthcare workers trained during the pandemic would be a great addition to the workforce. This should be done with extreme caution and with guidelines to ensure safety of everyone. The institutions are also centers for research, where new ideas are generated on better way to fight the pandemic. Technology is a great tool for instruction and more so for nursing education. There is a great challenge of internet connection in the developing areas. Aspects of education like assessment need more research. Many advances have been done in the use of technology in nursing education however assessment of the objectives have had a set-back. More training on use of technology for the nursing educators is critical if we are to achieve best results. The resumption of training should be fast tracked within safe environments. The stakeholders should work round the clock to make this possible, because the pandemic is a health issue and more soldiers are needed. Nursing educators should also work on personal growth on technology based methods of training. Here is a great referral https://www.ignitenursingeducation.org/