Sept. 3, 2020

Nursing students embrace virtual tools for paediatric and perinatal clinical projects

When UCalgary Nursing revamped clinical courses like NURS 589 to meet the constraints of COVID-19, fourth-year students turned to Zoom webinars, Powerpoint and Powtoon to engage with pregnant parents and parents of newborns

University classes just don’t look the same in this time of safe physical distancing and that includes nursing courses where interaction with the public is essential to building the necessary skills. 

UCalgary Nursing took the step to revamp some clinical courses to meet the constraints of these new restricted environments and its Nursing 589 (paediatrics and periniatal) is an example of how adaptations have positively affected students.

N589 – Integrating Roles and Practice is a focused clinical experience where nursing students refine their critical thinking, developed in their theory courses, while they perform comprehensive assessments and interpret client data.

“We were presented with a real challenge delivering this clinical course this past spring,” says Dr. Zahra Shajani, associate dean, undergraduate practice education. “It was necessary to be very creative so students still develop their confidence in this area.”

Fourth-year students who chose perinatal as their focus in their second-to-last term this spring met via Zoom with one of two paediatric instructors and three perinatal instructors, including Georgina Bagstad.

“I believe the students were concerned and frankly skeptical about how they could learn virtually, but they did an excellent job,” Bagstad says now. “They developed webinars using either Powerpoint or Powtoon to present the information and then set up question and answer Zoom sessions for pregnant parents and parents of newborns. The sessions were related to the topics in the presentations.”

Topics covered in the webinars included: Safety and Your Newborn; Newborn Skin Variations; Mental Health; COVID-19; and Breastfeeding.

COLO Families Website

“I have never imagined I would finish a nursing semester virtually,” says nursing student Singhui Ling. “The learning experiences were wonderful because I got the opportunity to make educational videos and host Q&A sessions on maternal mental health.

Although this semester doesn't look like a typical one, I still gained the valuable skills to utilize technology as an effective teaching tool and collaborate with others in a team-based environment."

Rika Aleliunas agrees that she was surprisingly engaged throughout the spring term. “I liked the variety of content and how creatively it was delivered (a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous material, meetings, and guest lectures),” she says, remarking that instructors and students were still able to develop a community despite the lack of face-to-face interaction.

“I still got to know my clinical group which is something that I enjoy.”

“The students truly embraced the challenge and performed with confidence,” adds Shajani. “They did a phenomenal job in these uncertain clinical environments, using both their past and present experiences to successfully build on their skills. And I believe they came out stronger, empowering not only themselves but also the people they were supporting during these ambiguous times.”

The webinars are now on the COLO Families website. A community-based service created by registered nurses Julia Imanoff and Aaron Li, COLO Families is a social enterprise aimed at supporting parents to help foster healthy child development. To view the webinars, visit colofamilies.com/videos.