And the Beat Goes On: Skill Intensive Days COVID-19 Style

Posted Sep 29, 2020

Did you know….

Otterbein graduate faculty can adapt to new limitations and can create new socially distanced ways to engage students. All of us are experiencing changes in our world due to COVID-19. As an eternal optimist, I see many of the changes as positive, even though the sociologist and healthcare provider in me is concerned about the impact of social isolation for many community members. As an educator in the Otterbein Graduate Nursing program in the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) major, several challenges emerged since the pandemic’s eruption. For valid reasons of public safety and limiting the spread of COVID-19, clinical placement sites stopped allowing students to precept in those sites; there were restrictions on the face-to-face class meetings where active learning takes place; and hands-on labs were limited.

Traditionally during summer semester of the FNP major, the course faculty and the lab team implement two skills intensive courses. One is an intensive procedure course over a three-day weekend and the other exposes students to a variety of clinical situations to increase clinical decision-making. The educators had to change the way they interacted with students to comply with COVID-19 guidelines established by the Ohio Board of Health.

The lab team, led by Jason Purvis, set up the stations and participated in the intensives as educators. The key was moving students from station to station and cleaning the equipment and learning space properly. One station assessed a variety of dermatological conditions either by manikin limbs with skin lesions or by photograph. The students wore masks for the entire day, and donned gloves to palpate or touch the skin lesions when applicable. When a student moved to the next table or lesion station, the students disinfected the manikin or the photograph and also disinfected the table area. At the end of the session, the student disinfected their chair before leaving the room. Students were asked to wash their hands after removing gloves and submitted answer sheets on a separate table where faculty donned gloves to grade the answer sheets. A faculty or lab team member ensured all precautions were followed.

We all learned a lot, most importantly that lab-based education can still be done! Many of the practices forced upon us by COVID-19 should be continued into the future as they are valuable to prevent many communicable diseases. I am glad to state that no COVID-19 illness or suspected illness resulted from our skills intensives. Following social distancing, handwashing, masks, gloves and respect for the health of each other culminated in successful learning opportunities for students, and a reminder to even the seasoned healthcare providers that these measures do and will prevent the spread of illness.

Joy Shoemaker
Advanced Practice Director