Even though face-to-face instruction for the Winter 2020 term ended on March 13, by the end of the semester 50,000 grades across approximately 2,000 course sections were assigned (only 138 were originally planned to be delivered online). In our Moving Online series, we look at the variety of ways faculty members and students quickly shifted to teach and learn digitally.

Nursing students connect online

May 14, 2020 | Health, Science, Society, Campus Life
A key part of nursing students’ community nursing clinical rotation is – no surprise – being in the community. But when COVID-19 made that impossible, third-year nursing students got the chance to try something new.

Working with representatives from the McCauley Community League and the City of Edmonton, and relying on video chat and online research, Emma Hetherington, Jordana Perri and Tatiana Unger (Bachelor of Science in Nursing students in NURS 377: Community Health clinical rotation) conducted a remote community assessment, engaged with community members online and learned firsthand the impact nursing can have in communities.

“This particular clinical rotation is about students having the chance to see how community health nursing can be a force of wellness, health and healing,” says Melissa Maslyk, nurse educator in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. “There are a lot of biases and assumptions about an inner-city community like McCauley, but it’s a very vibrant place.”

As they did their community assessment, the three students noted the community’s extensive public art and community engagement. With those things in mind, they set out on a project aimed at fostering community connectedness during COVID-19 isolation.

STORY_IMG_Twitter_comm_nurs_20Reaching out electronically, they asked community members to submit words they felt represented the response to COVID-19. They received messages of appreciation and thanks for the efforts made by people – from specific community members to Canada Post letter carriers – the joy community members took from seeing children and youth walking in the neighbourhood and playing with their families, and a one-word submission – humility – from Ward 6 City Councillor Scott McKeen (who is also a MacEwan alum).

“This experience really opened my eyes to how community connectedness is a part of health and wellbeing,” says Emma. “And I also realized that the skills we learned in this clinical are important and transferable to every area of nursing.”

Once their community consultation was complete, the nursing students transposed those responses onto a large board as pieces of a puzzle that made up the word “recognize.”

“We had learned about the different ways art is used in nursing to share social, health and mental health messages,” says Emma. “And how art can help reduce stigma, form connections, build relationships and help people feel like they belong.”

As they were installing the board on the fence that surrounds the community league, people driving by were giving the students a thumbs up.

“If even one person sees our work and it speaks to them, that’s pretty awesome,” says Jordana. “At the beginning of this rotation I was wondering how we were going to be able to do online community nursing. I thought I might feel like I was missing out, but I didn’t. This really was the next best thing to being in the field.”

The way the students were able to actively engage in responsible partnership with community – even in an online setting – is something that stands out to Melissa.

“I saw true transformation among this group of students,” she says. “They had a unique opportunity to slow down, reflect and ask themselves how they could grow and embody the full essence of registered nursing practice, and they take away from this experience nursing skills that apply to all clinical settings – caring, strength-based inquiry, relational practice, reflexivity and humility – and the importance of doing with rather than doing for or to.”


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