Teaching in the age of COVID-19 has created a need for educators to innovate like never before. Fortunately, UTMB School of Nursing (SON) faculty members are discovering that critical skills can be taught just as effectively online, when both faculty and students are engaged with the experience.

Online Simulation Lab
Online Simulation Lab

Members of SON's OB nursing faculty — Dr. Jacquelyn Svoboda, Dr. Laura King, Dr. Dora Martin and Ms. Cheryl Day — recently conducted a simulation lab for third-semester BSN students, converting what is traditionally a face-to-face experience into an unfolding high-risk delivery case simulation on Zoom.

Groups of five students per simulation navigated the virtual experience with a faculty moderator and visual prompts. Student participants served as virtual nurses, family members and observers, just as they would in the in-person lab experience.

It was encouraging and enlightening to see that in the virtual environment, students were able to critically apply their knowledge and prioritize nursing assessment and interventions with confidence, despite the lack of face-to-face contact, according to Dr. Svoboda, the course director.

The students were actively engaged in learning and successfully demonstrated development of their critical thinking skills through application of the concepts they have learned in the OB course, Dr. King added.

Dr. Svoboda felt the change to virtual experiences has been just as educational for her as for her students, as she has honed in on qualities that help make her a better educator — such as being well-organized, accessible and a clear, concise communicator.

Most importantly, Dr. Svoboda has witnessed that education does not have to be compromised just because it is delivered in a virtual format — even with a larger cohort of around 120 students.

This virtual simulation format can be extremely engaging and has the potential to apply as much, or even more, critical thinking and prioritization skills than brick and mortar experiences, Dr. Svoboda said.