Watch and learn
Future nurses are learning the fundamentals of examining a patient during in-person lab classes this fall
Once a week, Madison Stoffel dons her mask and maroon nursing scrubs and ventures a mile from her apartment in Edgewater to the clinical simulation lab at Loyola University Chicago’s Lake Shore Campus. For the Loyola Nursing sophomore it is her only on-campus class this semester. Stoffel soaks in each lesson, watching carefully as her instructor demonstrates different clinical skills, like how to properly clean a wound or chart a medication.
A self-professed hands-on learner, Stoffel is grateful for the chance to come to campus and learn in-person, even while social distancing from her classmates. “It’s not something you can learn online,” she says of the coursework. “We are learning to work with blood pressure cuffs, scopes, bandages—it’s not as easy as it looks.”
Leading Stoffel’s lessons is clinical instructor Donna Kamuda, who has taught the nursing foundations skills lab for three semesters. When she heard that the lab course would remain in-person this fall, Kamuda admits she was just as relieved as Stoffel. “There's no other way to do it,” says Kamuda. “We're teaching students how to examine a patient, how to take a blood pressure, skills they need for their careers.”
Mastering these skills is critical for students as they prepare for their first clinical rotations, so missing a lab is not recommended. Despite her diligence, Stoffel has already missed two because of exposures to COVID-19 (she's tested negative, but quarantined after her exposure to be safe). “It’s very stressful when you miss a class and you have to try and catch up,” she says. “I feel like I have to be careful so I can go to this class.”
Kamuda and her co-instructor Kate Hilovsky sense the added stress on this semester’s students and are doing everything possible to ease the pressure. Between lessons, they offer coffee breaks to aid students in staying on task. Kamuda also encourages students to text her outside of the lab with any questions or concerns.
“We are here for our students and they realize it,” says Kamuda. “It’s important that we show them support, especially now.”