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Delivering Meaningful Healthcare Education During a Pandemic

To combat inequities in American healthcare, nursing and other health education institutions have a responsibility to deliver high levels of nuanced instruction.

Audrey Perry, DNP, CNM, clinical director of Nurse Midwifery and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Programs for Frontier Nursing University, explains the programs her school developed to continue these educational experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Audrey Perry, DNP, CNM

Clinical Director of Nurse Midwifery and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Programs, Frontier Nursing University

What are some of the challenges you faced in trying to deliver simulations virtually?

Frontier Nursing University ( FNU) has a long history of virtual education. we were well positioned to respond to the educational crisis the COVID pandemic created. However, we were still significantly challenged by technology, the increased demands for simulations, increased demands on faculty time and increased need for faculty training.

We have a Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at FNU and an exceptional IT department that provided the essential support for our students and faculty to successfully shift to virtual clinical experiences. Additionally, our interdepartmental team approach minimized our challenges.

Without our long history of distance education and dedication to innovation we would have experienced many more challenges. We had an established foundation for virtual simulations to build on. Additionally, we had software and curriculum established for a rapid increase in delivery of virtual simulations

We rapidly built and implemented hundreds of simulation hours for our clinical students across all curriculums. Our preexisting model for faculty education in virtual simulation and administrative support to shift faculty workload to a simulation focus enabled our students to continue their clinical practicum with minimal disruption.

So when it was finally done, what was the greatest benefit?

Students enrolled in clinical courses benefited the most from increasing virtual simulations in our curriculum. Frontier Nursing University has over 500 students enrolled in clinical courses, a term. These students are participating in clinical experiences in thousands of clinical sites throughout the country. During the pandemic, we had hundreds of clinical students displaced from clinical sites. Our rapid deployment of virtual clinical simulations enabled our students to continue to be educationally engaged and complete their program of study with minimal disruptions.

What responsibility do you think nursing degree providers have given the disparities in the healthcare industry today?

I believe all nursing degree providers have a responsibility to challenge future nurses to stand up and change the health disparities and inequities which plague our healthcare delivery systems. At Frontier Nursing University, our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leadership informs and guides our curriculum, educational culture and administrative decisions to ensure we maintain our focus on decreasing health disparities, and health inequities and increasing diversity, inclusion and equity for all members of our university community.

Do you think all providers of nursing degrees should have that responsibility?

Absolutely. Taking action to address health inequities, health disparities and the institutional racism that perpetuates an inadequate and substandard healthcare system is the responsibility of all schools of nursing and nurses.

What are the main benefits of pursuing a nursing degree?

The trust that communities and people assign to nurses is an honor and benefit of the profession. This trust, uniquely positions nurses as leaders in creating a more just health care system.

A nursing career can evolve as a persons needs, interests and desires change over a lifetime. As a nurse you can choose to stay focused on a particular specialty or change your focus as often as you desire, I think this is unique to the nursing profession.

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