Clarksville, TN – As the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic rages across the world, more than 300 nursing students continue their studies at Austin Peay State University (APSU), all with the goal of hanging their graduation photos along the halls of the McCord Building on campus.
We spoke to four nursing students recently who shared their thoughts about a career that has the world’s focus during the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis.
‘Nursing is a profession that does not take a break’
Sophomore Adalene Golding pointed out the nurses, doctors and health care teams are on the front lines of the coronavirus fight now.
“It has made me appreciate the profession even more, and I cannot wait until I finally become a nurse!” she said. “Nursing is a profession that does not take a break.”
First semester nursing student Rob Lee said he expects COVID-19 Coronavirus has brought an added relevancy to the profession.
“I think there’s going to be an explosion of people wanting to be nurses, especially after all of this is over, just because of the dire need that we have for nurses now,” he said.
Junior Brandi Ghergia agreed with Lee but added, “I also think that we’re starting to see cracks in our health care system, and this pandemic has made that a lot more obvious.
“While I do think there will be some people who will run toward nursing, I think other people, people who have been nurses for a long time, when this is over, they may step back because they don’t feel protected,” Ghergia added.
‘Nurses are supporting patients who can’t see their families’
First-year nursing student Adrienne Conover said she has developed a deeper appreciation of the compassion nurses bring to bedsides, especially during times of crisis.
“I know almost everybody’s on some sort of social distancing,” she said. “Patients don’t have the support they normally would have from families, and that’s where nurses have really had to step up, they’re supporting patients who aren’t able to see their families.”
Conover shared the story of her grandfather’s death in November.
“The biggest thing that really helped us get through that time together was us being together as a family and then the nurses who helped support us,” she said. “They were there to help support us emotionally and provide us knowledge, so we were aware and not in the dark.”
Lee, Ghergia and Golding agreed.
“In nursing school, we are taught to care for patients,” Golding said. “We learn about taking care of the most vulnerable. Right now, the most vulnerable need our help.”
Classmates ‘are the concrete that’s holding me together’
The pandemic has disrupted student life at Austin Peay State University. The university moved spring and summer classes online, and students are adapting to life where they can’t interact face to face with classmates, professors and, in the case of nursing students, with patients.
“The biggest change has been not being able to see everybody,” Conover said. “They are the concrete that’s holding me together, we rely on each other so much.”
Golding agreed, adding, “Learning lecture material through a computer screen has its setbacks. The challenging part is the clinical portion.
“I feel the best learning happens through being able to experience interacting with patients, interprofessional communication and performing hands-on nursing skills,” she said. But moving to an online format and social distancing are “necessary alternatives that are crucial during this difficult time.”
Ghergia added: “Our instructors have gone out of their way to make this less horrible for us. They check in with us a least once a week on Zoom just to make sure that we’re OK.”
‘Persevere, think positive, never stop learning’
APSU School of Nursing interim Director Dr. Eve Rice recorded a video on April 19 that showed the empty halls and classrooms at the McCord Building. She sent the video to the school’s students the next day.
She then walked into the hallway where senior photos lined the walls.
“See these pictures? This is where you’re going to be. May 8th, 2020, spring graduating class, your photos will be right here,” Rice said. “We are so proud of you because what you have done.
“Everybody else, you’re going to be here before you know it too,” she added. “COVID is not going to stop us, it’s just going to make us stronger. We’re going to be back here in this hallway.”
To learn more
For more about the Austin Peay State University School of Nursing, visit https://www.apsu.edu/nursing/