College educator weighs in on pandemic’s impact on nursing students

Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The pandemic has notably changed the way institutions are training future nurses, but according to an educator at Calhoun, the pandemic is not affecting their enrollment.

Throughout the pandemic, a number of local nurses have shared their experiences with the community.

Lynn Hogan, chair of the Calhoun Community College nursing department, says the pandemic hasn’t slowed their program down.

“Our applications and enrollment really haven’t changed, so the pandemic, I don’t think its steering people away from their desire to become a nurse,” said Hogan. “That’s really important because we know how badly nurses are needed.”

However, COVID-19 definitely made its mark on the curriculum. In fact, some students are in the thick of it gaining real-world experience.

“We can’t shorten the nursing program because of the pandemic,” Hogan said. “But we do incorporate things that we hear from our clinical partners that they share with us, the best practices that they’re using for patient care at the bedside.”

Calhoun Community College offers a five-semester nursing program. Hogan says it may be hard to believe, but Hogan says most students aren’t afraid of the obstacles that lie ahead.

“They realize the situation, and they’re continuing with their education,” she said. “They’re not throwing up their hands and running away. We are in the clinical setting, we have students that provide care to COVID patients as part of their patient assignments for the day. They’re all in.”

Hogan says times have changed from when she was a bedside nurse, but some similarities remain.

“When I was a new nurse, there were a lot of unknowns about HIV and AIDS,” she said. “As we know that has played out very differently than COVID is playing out as far as a pandemic.”

There are looming frustrations and debates regarding nurse pay in the state of Alabama. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses in Alabama make significantly less than the national average salary.

Hogan said she’s open and honest with potential students when discussing salary.

“I have always said don’t do it for the pay,” she said. “You need to make the decision to be a nurse because that’s innate within you. What you feel like you’re called to do. It’s not a job, it kind of becomes who you are.”

And nurses, Hogan says, are some of the most valuable people in America, pandemic or not.

To learn more about Calhoun’s nursing program, visit their website here.

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