By: Rebekah Crozier
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in a unique way, but among those who especially had to adjust to the changes brought about by the pandemic are nurses and nursing students.
Samford nursing students could not have predicted that they would be doing their nursing clinicals during a pandemic. When the university closed last March, students were forced to finish their clinical hours either virtually or by doing case studies with professors on Zoom. This was not ideal, as the purpose of clinicals is for nursing students to receive hands-on experience in hospitals or schools.
Thankfully, in-person clinicals returned at the start of the new school year last semester with the biggest difference being the required N95 face masks and face shields for nursing students. Sophomore nursing student Maddy Anderson said that she has had a positive experience with clinicals this semester.
“I have felt safe in the midst of the pandemic and have learned how to take care of patients from various backgrounds,” Anderson said.
Dr. Cindy Berry, a professor of the Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing, oversees setting up all clinicals for Samford nursing students. She explained a few more differences between clinicals this year and in previous years, such as public schools not allowing nursing students on campuses to work with the school nurses, because many schools are still operating virtually or in a hybrid format.
While the pandemic has added a lot of difficulties and changes to the clinical experience, Berry believes that going through clinicals during a pandemic has been an advantage to students in many ways.
“They’ve gotten lots of opportunities to give COVID vaccines, which is something we wouldn’t have done before, and that is a service to our community,” Berry said.
Clinicals during the pandemic have also given Samford nursing students a new perspective on working in a hospital.
“The idea of being in the hospital during a pandemic seemed incredibly daunting, however, I think it has given us a new and unique perspective on the hospital, the patients and staff including,” junior Olivia Ward said. “The chaos and unknown of the pandemic seems to have created a special bond and getting to see that first hand has been really encouraging.”
Anderson also believes that there have been benefits to having her clinicals during this time.
“I think the benefits are being able to be there for patients when their family cannot come,” Anderson said. “I know it is already a lonely and overwhelming time to be in the hospital, so it makes it even harder to not have a familiar face there with you.”
Having nursing clinicals during a pandemic has not been easy on nursing students, but it has allowed for lots of growth and opportunities that students might not have been able to have otherwise.
“Our students have been and continue to be welcomed and sought after,” Berry said. “I think they really represent everything that a nurse should be.”