Courtesy of College of the Desert
In March 2020, COVID-19 hit and forced all in-person learning to be moved online. This caused a struggle with some classes that require hands-on participation, such as the College of the Desert’s nursing department.
“Students were unable to gain hands-on experience in many of the clinical sites located throughout the valley,” said Director of Nursing and Allied Health Carol Scobie. However, things started to look up. In Spring 2021, the nursing department started offering hybrid course options that allowed students to attend theory and lecture portions of their classes online with lab and clinical work offered face-to-face.”
Student RN Stephanie Dudley said how helpful and a blessing it has been to have a hybrid class. “I am a fourth-semester student at College of the Desert’s registered nursing program. The college and faculty have done an outstanding job creating a very successful online learning hub.” COD has done a superb job in making sure their students get the best education that fits their academic requirements.”
Online learning has been difficult for most students, but the tools provided with Zoom learning have made it easier. Tools such as recording lectures so students can watch anything they might have missed and the breakout rooms so students can interact with other classmates while continuing social distancing. Now that the department is moving forward, Scobie said hybrid classes would continue to offer the same tools and take a step forward by having in-person labs.
Dudley said, “Even better than complete online learning, the college has allowed the nursing students on campus to have hands-on skills training. That is so important to help develop those cognitive motor skills. Overall, I have had a very positive experience with hybrid learning, and for my future education, I hope it continues.”
Safety is College of the Desert’s top priority. That is why when COD first started to prepare for hybrid learning, they made sure that the safety of their faculty, staff and students was a top priority. Scobie said, “Prior to starting the semester, we worked with the college’s safety committee and the COVID-19 reporting committee to develop a specialized nursing simulation center plan that aligns with the college’s COVID-19 prevention plan and conforms to all county, state OSHA guidelines and best practices.”
It was a learning experience for them, Scobie admits at the start, but once they got used to the new protocols, everything worked out and ended up running smoothly. The nursing department was very excited to move forward and had no hesitation once the opportunity came along.
The students and staff follow safety guidelines to make sure everyone is safe, including the mandatory use of face coverings, additional handwashing, social distancing and increased disinfection of common areas and high-touch surfaces. “Students are also required to pass daily COVID-19 prescreening and temperature checks using the SWAY Medical App before arriving on campus.
Scobie said, “We have also adjusted schedules and reduced occupancy limits in each of our areas. To date, no employee or student has contracted COVID-19 during the course of work or while attending a class.”
To help with distance learning, the labs the nursing department provides are designed to increase space between beds to help with social distancing. Scobie said that labs are mostly the same as how things used to be. However, they have increased the use of their simulation lab and regular labs.
“We realize the learning that occurs in these labs is a rich clinical experience, one that students may not currently get in a hospital environment due to covid closures and concerns,” said Scobie.
The college’s faculty and staff miss seeing students learning in school and hope they will be back to normal safely. During the hardships of this year, they have realized the many benefits of online learning.
“Online classes have some unexpected benefits, such as students can view their lectures over and over again to ensure they understand complex concepts,” said Scobie.
Regardless of the direction COD takes in the future, Scobie believes no matter what steps they take, decisions will be made for what is best for all students. The college is committed to providing a well-rounded education accessible for all learning types.