The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a lot of changes to course delivery across PSU classes, but only a few areas can boast that the pandemic has affected the specific material taught in its courses. For the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing (IRBSN), the pandemic inspired a shift in the nursing curriculum toward the inclusion of telemedicine technology and practices.
Anna Beth Gilmore (DNP, APRN, NP-C), a nurse faculty member with the IRBSN, has been one of the lead faculty members through the implementation process. She began working with the telemedicine curriculum as part of her final scholarly project to complete her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.
“Our director wrote a grant so that we could participate in a telehealth education program last spring,” Gilmore said. “We have the telehealth education program for our pre-licensure students and some RN-BSN students and even some preceptors in our community. We were also able to purchase some telehealth equipment.”
The participants in the telehealth education program, including Gilmore, are now able to take the new skills they learned and implement them into various coursework already taught in the IRBSN.
“Now we are taking the knowledge we gained in the telehealth class over the spring and implementing that into the curriculum,” Gilmore said. “Every course will teach some aspect of telehealth nursing.”
Gilmore also feels that having telehealth information in the IRBSN curriculum will benefit students that attend the program.
“When students graduate from nursing school and they go out into the field, it’s going to be one more thing they can put on their resume,” she said. “They’ll show they have experience working with this (telehealth). It’s also going to help them interact with patients in that telehealth setting, because as we know the pandemic is still going strong and we don’t really know how long this is going to go. In-person care is always best, but right now that’s not available so we have to do second best.”
The inclusion of telehealth aspects into nursing courses is particularly timely due to the pandemic, but the addition of extra curriculum to learn could be seen as an unneeded addition to an already information-heavy slate of coursework.
“We had a telehealth course we did in nursing school through Old Dominion University,” said PSU nursing alumnus Madison DeLissa. “It was good exposure to see the formalities of telemedicine, but it also felt like a bit of busywork when we were already super busy in our senior year of nursing school. It also depends on what area of nursing you go into, because as a floor nurse at a hospital, I do not use telemedicine; however, if you’re a clinic nurse, you might utilize telemedicine more often.”
Alumnus Sarah Wilkinson, currently in medical school at Oklahoma State University, feels that telehealth curriculum would not have benefited her much in her first year of graduate study, but that it could be beneficial later on.
“During the first part of medical school you are reviewing basic science and systems courses like the cardiovascular system,” Wilkinson said. “A telemedicine class is more clinical, so I think that it would be more beneficial in post graduate programs like medical school where your focus is to learn the basic science and combine that in a clinical setting to treat patients.”
New telehealth techniques will be appearing in nursing courses as early as this fall, and overtime, more will be added to the curriculum as advancements develop.