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Hands-on labs move online

Nursing student in Ellis Skills Lab

Spring break was a major pivot point for schools responding to the dangerous spread of Covid-19. Assistant Professor of Nursing Rhea Ann Lee worked over the break to make sure Oklahoma Christian University nursing students received the skills lab training they would need. Forty-two juniors were depending on her!

Nursing and other health professions have good online options and vendors responded to the increased need by providing affordable options, some even free. State board and accrediting bodies have guidelines on how to make virtual labs meaningful and engaging.

"There was lots of information available online. I attended some webinars to move quickly to transition to an online format to prevent gaps in students learning," said Lee.

Nursing students access an online workbook for pre-work to learn the disease and diagnosis of the patient. After some preparation they enter into virtual hospital where they visit with a patient and complete assignments. The virtual experience requires the future nurses to dig deep into patient care, assessment administration, sometimes even in a more full way than face to face. Hands-on labs are more skills and task oriented. This format pushes students into a deeper thought process from the prep work to patient care and feedback within the program.

"Three full-time clinical faculty together with three School of Nursing alumni are on call, much like we would be in face to face labs. While students work in virtual hospitals, instructors are available for consultations and guidance through the process," said Lee. "Faculty see how much time is spent in the program and grade the work students do. We use zoom and Blackboard collaborate at the end of the day to wrap things up and debrief.