COVID-19 changed nursing: Second year students share their experiences


Grace Monk, Editor

“It was not at all what I was expecting.” shared second-year nursing student Grace Hallock. COVID changed a lot for nursing majors here at Viterbo. Sophomore nursing students Grace Hallock, Paige Swanson, and Hailey Schumacher shared their experiences.  


Last fall, many first-year students struggled to adjust with the restrictions put in place. “It was really hard being isolated in our rooms and never getting face-to-face interaction with the masks on,” said Hailey Schumacher.  


The semester began with isolation and online courses. “The first couple of weeks is when you are supposed to meet the friends you are going to have for the next four years,” shared Schumacher. Many nursing students struggled to get started last semester. Paige Swanson shared that “having our nursing basics online made it really hard to get started. It felt like we were teaching ourselves.”  


Nursing students struggled to take their classes online and felt they missed out on a lot. “I thought we would get a lot more hands on experience. I feel like things got cut short” shared Hallock. Many nursing courses require hands-on work during labs. Last fall, first-year nursing labs were cut from one hour to two. Hallock felt that “having even an extra hour of lab would have really benefited” nursing students.  


The three had a passion for nursing before they came to Viterbo. Hallock wanted to become a nurse because “the compassion [she] experienced from nurses was inspiring.” Swanson agreed adding, “I wanted the chance to make a difference in someone’s life.” Many nursing students work as certified nursing assistants both before and during their time at Viterbo. Working as CNA’s before attending Viterbo, allowed the three to experience COVID in a healthcare setting  


“I think it opened my eyes a little,” said Swanson. “Seeing the shortages my nursing home experienced scared me.” The changes in healthcare caused many nursing students to second guess their decision. Swanson went on to say that “Even if it scares me, it just goes to show that they need me even more. I just have to work through it.” The three felt their CNA experience helped them overcome the challenges COVID presented. Schumacher shared “seeing how things were when [COVID] first started and where we are now makes me hopeful. I think we have come a long way.” 


With fewer restrictions in place now, nursing students have access to more hands-on experience. “I feel 100 times better this year,” shared Hallock. “They didn’t cut our class hours and are doing their best to introduce everything to us while making things as hand on as possible.”  


In January, second-year nursing students began clinicals. Swanson said that “The hands-on experiences excite me, and when I’m excited, I feel ready to learn.” The students had the opportunity to work with their own patient at a local nursing home. “It helped me remember that this is what I am going to be needing for the rest of my life.”  


Many students fear COVID is still impacting their education even with fewer restrictions. “I feel really nervous. I feel like I haven’t gotten the education I should be,” shared Hallock. “I think COVID restrictions have a lot to do with this.” Nursing students feel that they aren’t being prepared to work during a pandemic. “We are learning how to assess patients, but not patients in isolation,” shared Swanson. “It has changed healthcare, and I think we should talk about that more.” 


Schumacher shared that “The healthcare shortages have really put a damper on workers and their mental health. That worries me a little bit.” Despite her worries, Schumacher “can’t imagine doing anything else.” The three have had to overcome challenges but remain confident in their decision to become nurses. “I always wonder why I would choose something so hard,” said Swanson, “but then I remember the end results, and I’m always happy with my choice.”  


Nursing students have faced challenges in the last two years. As the future of healthcare, they continue to work hard knowing it will make a difference.