RMU nursing students discuss changes to learning experience during COVID-19


Hannah Waterman

RMU student Emma Burrows talks about what it is like being a nursing major during a global pandemic.

Hannah Waterman

College students are adapting to life and school during this uncertain time. For most, it has been quite the adjustment; however, for some students, it may prove to be a more difficult adjustment.

Nursing students have several in-person requirements, such as labs and clinicals, that are essential to their education. With the full effects of COVID-19 still evident, these in-person educational experiences have been forced to change or have modified requirements.

“Right now, clinicals are a little different,” said Emma Burrows, a junior nursing major at Robert Morris University. “We can only go at certain times and they have been mostly front-loaded in the beginning. Normally, we would be doing simulations, but we are actually front-loading it in case we get sent home.”

Adding to the uncertainty is no guarantees that students returning in the spring semester. With no concrete plans it has become hard to plan clinicals, which are required for nursing students to graduate on time.

With all of these changes and restrictions, the faculty at the RMU School of Nursing, Education and Human Studies are doing what they can to keep students engaged with their learning environment.

“A lot of things are virtual right now, so I have not seen some of my teachers,” said Burrows, “which is a little hard, but I would say that it has not affected my learning that much. It is just a lot different and a lot harder.”

In accordance with a high standard for entry, the university’s nursing program is often a rigorous and difficult program that expects a lot out of students. While each semester has its challenges, this semester is proving to be especially challenging.

“I’d say that this semester is a little more difficult just because last semester got cut short and we did not get as much experience right before we went into clinical,” said Abby Staman, a junior nursing major. “We didn’t have too many hands on labs before we got sent into clinical, but we have adapted.”

For nursing students, the hands-on experience is absolutely essential, so RMU is balancing in-person hands on experience and social distanced learning that follows the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing. These measures have been implemented in order to protect the RMU community from possible infection of the virus; however, it has been a challenge within the classroom.

“Obviously you can see people,” said Staman. “But you have to stay six feet apart for social distancing. I like to see everyone’s smiling faces so it is hard with the mask on.”