Wichita State Health Professions students face unusual challenges as they prepare to enter the workforce during a global pandemic. With all coursework in an online or hybrid format, students have had to say goodbye to a lot of the hands-on learning components.
Senior nursing major Sarah Lawson’s classes are split into six groups. Each group takes turns going into an in-person lecture one week and attending a zoom call the next. The amount of students allowed in the classroom have gone from 60 to 30.
Lawson said that even though she is facing challenges, the quality of her education has not changed.
“My education does look different, but I’m not going to say that it’s a negative change because we are still doing clinicals and gaining exposure at the hospital,” Lawson said. “It’s a learning curve but I don’t think that there’s a negative impact at all.”
Kate Williams, a junior in the athletic training program, said that most of her classes have gone online but labs are still in-person. She said she was surprised with WSU’s decision to open campus after looking at the COVID-19 numbers.
“I don’t think that WSU has taken the proper steps in order for the protection of both staff and students,” Williams said. “Professors need to be diligent about keeping classrooms clean and disinfecting thoroughly, and I don’t believe that is happening, especially with non-health profession classes. I think it would have been better for us to stay completely online this semester until things started to slow down a bit regarding COVID-19.”
Second semester nursing student Naomi Kitchen said that the pandemic has made her want to go into nursing even more.
“Part of the reason I entered the nursing program was to earn a second income in our household,” Kitchen said. “But it’s more that I want to serve a community and help other people. I find during this pandemic that I want to do more than ever as soon as I have my accreditation.”
Williams said that while she has had to adapt to a new form of learning, she has spent the summer preparing to take on this new challenge.
“My learning techniques have changed since last semester,” Williams said. “I honestly did not know how to properly handle a full online course load, but over the summer I took an online class and learned that planning things out in an agenda has helped me out so much already and staying to a structured schedule.”
Williams said that even though she is still learning through a new setting, she feels that her education has decreased because she is not getting the same hands-on experience.
“With athletic training, our learning experience comes from hands-on teaching and being able to feel the human body,” Williams said. “I remember last semester, we had to do special tests on family members or just explain the process which is a decrease in learning to me personally.”
Kitchen said that while the students are having to adjust, they have to remember that their professors are going through the same difficult adjustments.
“I think it is hard for professors to make this adjustment,” Kitchen said. “Our professors have been nurses before so they want to be able to help and serve people, so it is difficult to be separated.”
Despite all of these challenges, Williams said that COVID-19 has not scared her away from the medical field.
“My passion for my career has increased with the global pandemic,” Williams said. “We’ve always known that healthcare workers are essential, but none of us thought we were going to be experiencing a pandemic. It hasn’t changed my opinion about going into the healthcare profession; if anything, it’s just made me more dedicated to my goals.”