After many university and college programs made the return to in-person learning in September, third-year nursing students enrolled in Humber’s Nursing program are feeling frustrated as their learning remains virtual.
Humber nursing student Jessica Boaventura was surprised to hear her program was remaining online while her colleagues in other institutions returned in-person.
“I was extremely disappointed to see that another one of my clinical experiences would be online once again,” Boaventura said.
For nursing students, clinical experience is one of the most important aspects of the program. It provides hands-on, interactive experience to prepare them for the future.
“A nurse’s entire career revolves around people; caring for people, communicating with people. By having a lack of opportunity to work with patients in different settings is the most concerning for me moving forward. I feel unprepared to work with certain populations because I haven’t had that one-on-one experience,” Boaventura said.
A study done in May 2020 by Statistics Canada asked over 100,000 postsecondary students how COVID-19 impacted their academic life. They reported that 41 per cent of academic disruptions were in the health care field of study, along with 53 per cent in trades and 56 per cent in services.
The study says these fields of study are more likely to include job placements or course work such as labs, applied learning and hands-on instruction that cannot be delivered online.
Boaventura has perviously graduated with a Bachelor in Psychology. She knows how important in-person student interaction can be and Boaventura says virtual learning has made it hard to rely on peer support.
“Nothing brings me more comfort than when people can share the same experiences as you. With a program as emotionally draining as nursing can be, it would be nice to be able to have other students as that support system in person. Virtually there is no way to receive that experience and I miss it so much,” Boaventura said.
Miguel Flores, nursing student and colleague of Boaventura is also concerned about how virtual learning will effect his future nursing career. Flores asks the question, “if you were in the ER and a nurse assesses you, would you rather your attending nurse be the one who actually went to school all four years, or the one who spent half their degree learning through a computer screen?”
Flores believes there is a certain level of trust in nursing and with online virtual learning available, the trust can be broken.
“The online classes can feel monotone, rushed, and confusing with little time to address these issues live. Given that this is our foundation of knowledge going into our future practice, it should raise questions as to where the gaps in our knowledge lie,” Flores said.
Like Boaventura, Flores was shocked when he heard the news of their program continuing online.
On October 14th, Humber’s Vice-President of Students and Institutional Planning Jason Hunter announced the upcoming plans for the winter 2022 semester.
“After transitioning to more in-person learning this term, we are excited to be moving forward with even more in-person academic programming beginning in January,” Hunter said
In-person courses and on-campus activities for the winter 2022 semester are expected to run in accordance with the health and safety protocols in place this upcoming January.