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Largest RN class ever graduates

by Josiah Thomas | News Editor
Photo courtesy of Schoolcraft College

Schoolcraft’s largest-ever graduating class of nurses — 167 in total — are headed to work in a time where they’re needed most. The World Health Organization designated 2020 as the year of the nurse and the timing couldn’t be better.

Michigan needs nurses in all specialties, particularly for the care of patients who are sick during the present Coronavirus pandemic. Schoolcraft’s newest nursing students are graduating from one of the top nursing schools in the state for 2019 (ranked by the Nursing Schools Almanac, which has been ranking institutions since 2016) so they’re more than capable of meeting the challenges ahead.

“This graduating class of May 2020 has been exceptionally flexible and resilient while trying to complete the last nursing course in the program,” said the Associate Dean of the Nursing, Dr. Debi Vendittelli. “We are VERY proud of what each of them has been able to accomplish and wish them all the best as they start careers in the profession of nursing.”

The need for new nurses is so great that graduates secured a temporary license to start working in their field before taking and passing the required NCLEX-RN exam. This not only allows new graduates to get to work but the can also receive economic benefits and assist their fellow nurses in providing healthcare during the pandemic. Governor Whitmer passed this common-sense directive because it would take longer for graduates to schedule exam appointments due to social distancing regulations at testing centers.

Even better, the new nurses were prepared and ready to complete the course and program outcomes, thanks to distance learning and telehealth technology.

“Over spring break, students and instructors fully transitioned from traditional clinicals and face-to-face learning to distance learning platforms,” said Venditelli. “While lectures and exams were less complex adjustments, as faculty were able to do video classes and proctored online assessments, the nursing program had to get creative to meet clinical hour requirements.”

By using the telehealth assignments with people in the community and other virtual learning assignments, in observance of social distancing, the assignments were set up to be as realistic as possible by reaching out to members in the community across different lifespans and completing an assessment that includes a full medical history.

Students were tasked with identifying how such assessments were doable through telehealth technology, dealing with the limitations telehealth had.

“From there, they needed to identify priority problems for the individuals assessed, create a care plan, and incorporate appropriate teaching to help with their current or chronic health problems,” said Venditelli. “The students also utilized virtual learning to complete a variety of scenario-based learning experiences with unfolding changes in the patient scenario for common healthcare diagnoses.” Students were also trained to handle Coronavirus patient care scenarios so that they can enter a hospital system inundated with current COVID-19 patients.

The new distance-learning educational tools that were used to prepare the latest graduating class of nurses is the new norm. The fact that they have met with this much success so far holds a lot of promise for the future.