Though we’re not out of the Covid woods yet, the next few months look as if they’ll continue to be more open than last year. This is good news for recent graduates and future students around the region when it comes to education after Covid.
Last month, many graduates from MedQuest College (230 in total!) had a unique common thread: the entirety of their time in school was completed during the pandemic.
In March of 2020, the executive team at MedQuest College, like other educational institutions around the country, closed campuses to protect the health of students and staff. We quickly adjusted to Zoom lectures, video study sessions and limited on-campus access for socially distant, hands-on learning.
The first few weeks of April 2020 were a challenge. I fielded calls, texts and emails from concerned students and faculty over worries about virtual education.
But Zoom soon felt as if it had always been a useful tool in our kit.
Faculty members have shared with me that the pandemic and the resulting changes in how they taught have become a benefit to students. Interactive, collaborative education is the future, offering easier student/educator access for education after Covid.
Our virtual simulator at MedQuest plays a pivotal role in our Practical Nursing course and helps students sharpen their skills as they progress in the program. Simulations provide real-world scenarios and require students to multitask, much like they’ll do in the field.
If students want to improve a score or outcome of a simulation, they can re-try it. The system refreshes with new information, so retaking the assessment gives multiple experiences to improve knowledge and prepare students for externships and real work.
Plus, rising instances of medical offices using telehealth (to great success!) mean our students are ready to tackle anything they may encounter in their new roles.
Education After Covid
I’ve been the proudest about how our students, faculty and externship partners have been able to pivot and create an environment that safely fosters learning. Students work closely with externship staff, getting hands on experience with technical aspects of their future careers. Additionally, the in-person work allows them to practice skills that you can’t learn in a classroom.
Over the last few weeks, our medical assisting and licensed practical nursing students have been able to safely take part in externships at local nursing homes. Students work closely with clinical instructors, facility staff and other students in the field to care for residents.
In addition to the usual aspects of practice in the facilities, we’ve added manicures and pedicures as teaching tools. Interestingly, these interactions between students and residents are helping solidify crucial empathetic skills.
For residents, it’s someone to talk to, someone to hold their hand and chat. Human touch and connection are so crucial – and even more so over the last year.
The day after those manicures, the nursing home director reached out to share that one of her residents had been showing off her red nails, sweetly noting that it’s the happiest she had been in a long time. The director added that residents have been asking when students will return – which they have, of course! Education after Covid will be varied – preparing students to make a difference.
At MedQuest College, we’re sure to prepare our students for the technical aspects of their future careers, but just as importantly – we’re helping them empathize and connect with the patients they serve.
By Robin Boughey | Executive Director, MedQuest College