COVID-19 impacts nursing students’ training, preparation

Nursing students' clinicals have been suspended due to COVID-19 cautions, which could potentially affect their requirements for licensure. Photo courtesy of @baylornurses

By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer

While most Baylor students are on spring break until March 23, the Louise Herrington School of Nursing announced last week that some nursing students would have to return to their clinical rotations on Monday.

However, following the university’s announcement that the remainder of the semester will be online, the nursing school decided to suspend clinicals.

Spring senior Nell Flanagan said she believes that the measures taken to contain the virus are impacting schooling in a negative way.

“With COVID-19 now, many of our hospitals are no longer allowing ‘non-essential’ personnel like nursing students around patients. This is really frustrating for us right now because we literally need to have a certain number of hours in the hospital to graduate and therefore be a candidate for licensure,” Flanagan said.

Keller senior Marielle Hunt said she had mixed emotions about finishing the semester.

“As one going into the healthcare field, I completely understand the need to take the measures that are being instituted. However, as a graduating senior I’m sad and stressed,” Hunt said. “Senior year feels like it’s ended abruptly and without closure.”

Hunt said that preventative measures may affect seniors’ ability to prepare for the NCLEX, an important step for many in finding a job.

“We have to take NCLEX after graduation and many of our jobs are contingent upon passing. Our faculty at the nursing school is incredible and they will absolutely do everything they can to ensure our success. It is definitely unnerving that half of a semester that is traditionally dedicated to NCLEX prep will no longer take place in a classroom setting,” Hunt said.

The nursing school website also announced that “any students, faculty or staff who have traveled to countries outside the United States or to Washington State, New York or California are required to report this information to Senior Associate Dean, Dr. Linda Plank, and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.”

Austin junior Anna Baumgartner spent her spring break in Washington D.C. and New York City, and is now in isolation.

“I am very irritated with the whole situation. I am showing no symptoms,” Baumgartner said. “My roommates in Dallas were worried if they came in contact with me, I would infect them and they would have to be quarantined. I was crying on the plane, freaking out about what I was supposed to do. It all felt very unreal and it was awful.”

Baumgartner said she was hesitant about traveling in the first place and almost stayed home for spring break after she found out her uncle in Nashville had tested positive for COVID-19.

Looking forward, the nursing school has sent students several emails outlining how lessons will proceed.

Baumgartner said the emails described “online simulations” and “FaceTime video chats” that would be utilized in their instruction.

“As unfortunate and frustrating as all of this is, it really does prepare us for disaster nursing and how to work through a pandemic should it continue or if something new comes up,” Flanagan said. “Obviously we’re still students now and are no longer required to put ourselves at risk in the hospital, but when we become the nurses we won’t have the choice.”