As the fall winds down, faculty and students at the UNC Charlotte College of Health and Human Services are reflecting on a semester changed by COVID-19, but highlighted by teamwork and creative approaches to learning.
Cory Sheeler is a lecturer in the School of Nursing and taught two in-person classes this semester. The first is a health assessment lab for first semester nursing students, and the second is a clinical practicum which takes place in a hospital for graduating seniors.
While the students and faculty nationwide have had to adjust to remote classes, Sheeler explains that in-person classes are posing their own challenges as well.
“Infection control is paramount. For the lab we wear masks, keep socially distant and I record the didactic portion of the class for the students to review prior to coming to the lab,” he said.
The group then works through hands-on learning and classroom discussion. Seniors who are a part of the clinical rotation are partnering with Atrium Health this semester. The students use personal protective equipment as outlined in hospital and CDC guidelines to stay safe, while still allowing for positive learning experiences. The senior students have worked to fine-tune skills such as multitasking, prioritizing care for multiple patients and working within interdisciplinary teams to ensure patients are getting the best care. This last clinical experience at UNC Charlotte is intended to provide nursing students a final boost of skills and confidence as they prepare to begin their careers.
Despite being in-person for some instruction, the use of technology has been paramount for Sheeler and his students. Professor Sheeler is using WebEx for student conferences, and Canvas and Google Group Chats to foster collaboration.
“I have found that the technology available to us at UNC Charlotte is greater than I even thought it was. Students want access to knowledge and experience, and I can give that to them by being accessible to them perhaps even more than I was pre-COVID,” Sheeler said.
Sheeler actively checks the students of his in-person classes Niner Health Check each day to insure they are safe to come to class.
Students have expressed that new learning styles have helped them get through these unique academic times.
“Everyone is struggling one way or another through different means. Bringing creatively to our education provides us with a desire to want to learn more; it makes things exciting and enticing. I am excited to be a nurse, and I am thankful for those that put the time and effort in making the learning process enjoyable,” said Rachel O'Briant, a first-year nursing student taking Sheeler’s health assessment class.
Cory Sheeler continues to work as a nurse practitioner and care for elderly patients in assisted living facilities. His background is in emergency nursing, where he worked as a nurse and a nurse practitioner for more than a decade.