CANTON, Ohio — Colleges and universities all across the United States had to move to remote learning once states closed school campuses due to the coronavirus. For some, it was more challenging than others.

    What You Need To Know

    • Preparations to online learning began four years ago at Aultman College with a push from students

    • The school is looking at new ways of simulating labs and simulating clinical experiences virtually

    • They are looking to bring a small number of students back on campus in the summer, splitting them into multiple classrooms for social distancing with one instructor teaching through a virtual platform

First semester nursing major Brandy Breslin demonstrates through a recorded video how to clean and replace bandages on a patient. It’s part of a class assignment at Aultman College in Canton.

Breslin does the best she can considering the circumstances.  It’s been years since she’s been in school and she’s having to learn remotely because of the coronavirus. A little nervous, Breslin quickly settled in. 

“When we went in the middle of the semester, we were logging on at our normal class time with live lectures on Zoom with our instructors, which was nice because then you can ask a question right away,” Breslin said.

She said the communication for remote learning helped to ease the tension, in addition to the fact that everything they would need to do labs in person was delivered to them.

“And so I have a package that had two separate bags in them and with all the materials. One bag was for practice with all the materials I needed to practice what I needed to do, and then the other one that I opened up to demonstrate the technique in my competency video. And our instructor sent us, you know, like instructions on how to do it and multiple videos.”

Breslin said the extra help made her feel good. But none of it would have been possible had the college not been working to shift a large percentage of it’s classes online. 

Vice President of Academic Affairs Brock Reiman said four years ago there was a push from their student population to move online.

“Essentially, students are looking for more convenience. They’re balancing more on their plates typically. As the only college in the state directly connected to a healthcare system with a health care focus, Reiman said the move then, prepared them and put them ahead of the curve for now.

“We were able to flip that switch quickly because we had the infrastructure in place and we had faculty who were really seasoned and willing to put the energy into it and do it for the students’ sake.”

Training faculty last year for remote learning has made a world of difference. 

With COVID-19 still at the forefront, Reiman said they’re thinking outside of the box to prepare students for clinicals, while turning their hands on labs into online courses.

“We are looking at new ways of simulating labs and simulating clinical experiences, how to interact with patients for patient care.”

As they continue to work on classroom setups, Brandy Breslin focuses on what’s ahead, knowing that her hard work online will pay off in real time, real soon.

“I feel very grateful that the school is so on top of it and really good at the communication that’s making it as easy as possible for the situation we’re in.”

Although Breslin has a background in graphic design and was also a preschool teacher, she says she wants to go into pediatric nursing.

In the meantime, school officials say nursing students should be starting their clinicals in June. But before then, the goal is to give students in-person training to help them transition into positions in hospitals soon.