Unexpected pandemic doesn’t slow down nursing students

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With the world getting back to a sense of normalcy, the nursing program at SUNY Polytechnic Institue is looking to get back to teaching the next generation of students.

Lynne Longtin, DNP, RN, is the nursing graduate program director at SUNY Poly, starting back in 2018.

“When I started at the program, we were teaching both online and face-to-face classes and teaching in Albany and Utica,” Longtin said. “And we were making progress in the best of both worlds.”

With how much time and energy goes into a nursing degree, many students preferred learning online — about half the students, according to Longtin. Then when the pandemic hit, the class had to adapt.

“We went all online, except our health assessment class,” she said. “That was the one class we felt was important to have a face-to-face class for and it was the only one during the pandemic.”

The health assessment class teaches students in the nursing program how to perform advanced health assessments, such as listening to the heart and lungs, palpating thyroids, and more. Longtin said it was felt that it would be difficult to teach these skills online since a lot of the skills are hands-on.

“We wanted to make sure people are learning the right skills,” Longtin said. “It isn’t impossible, but [SUNY Poly] felt it was worth it to do the class in person.”

Since the pandemic, SUNY Poly has been making use of software that walks nursing students through patient assessment. It was a challenging and stressful time for students and faculty, Longtin said, even more so for students.

“It was more stressful for students because they were working as nurses, so they’re working many hours, thinking about their families, and still trying to do their schoolwork,” Longtin said. “For everyone, it was a challenge.”

It did put a lot of things into perspective and Longtin feels the professors and students were able to grow and learn.

“As with anything that’s painful, growth comes,” she said. “I think both the faculty and students learned what was valuable in their educational programs and what was needed.”

When asked how things are doing in her class now, Longtin said things have settled down and there’s a possibility of in-person classes returning this coming school year.

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