Madison Schlabach studies online classes.

Executive order relaxes restrictions for Glen Oaks health care students to move into workforce

Students in both the Nursing and Allied Health programs at Glen Oaks Community College will be able to move into the workforce a bit sooner in light of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts to meet the increased need for healthcare personnel as a result of COVID-19.

The campus moved to full online learning in mid-March which became somewhat of a challenge, not only for students receiving hands-on lab training, but especially for students training in clinical sites.

“Many of the healthcare facilities began imposing clinical student restrictions in early March,” said Sara Birch, director of nursing at Glen Oaks. “Our students were no longer allowed to work on their clinicals, so we originally thought they would have a lot of makeup lab work to do when the college opened back up.”

Glen Oaks plans to graduate 20 students enrolled in the Level I program, which prepares them for the Practical Nursing Exam, and 16 students in the Level II program, which prepares them for the Registered Nursing exam, at the end of semester.

“In response to the governor’s order, we have been working with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to guide us in expediting the licensure of our nurses about to enter the workforce,” said Birch, “and LARA provided direction to teach 100 percent online. This allows our students to complete the Nursing program and apply for a temporary license during this unprecedented time.”

The nursing faculty were already switching up how they were teaching as the college moved to the online platform – but this now meant instructors had to teach both lab and clinical portions of the program online.

“Our nursing faculty have gone above and beyond and have such a heart for wanting to meet our student’s needs – I’m proud of how they have stepped up and how they continue to stay in contact with their students,” said Birch. “For them this new parameter means using a combination of different teaching resources – ranging from online lectures and computerized modules and research to online materials made available by different nursing educational companies.”

“In one case, Keith RN, an educational platform for nursing instructors, provided a COVID-19 Simulation for instructor use, and Susan Lewis, nursing instructor, was able to roll it out as part of her Leadership in Nursing course.”

Fifteen students in the Allied Health programs at Glen Oaks were also affected.

“For me, a number of my lecture classes were online from past semesters,” said Carol Naccarato, director of Allied Health/Medical Assisting, “so that transition was easy.”

“The more difficult hurdle was the clinical class where we teach things like sterile procedures, first aid skills and several different types of injections,” said Naccarato. “Although there are online platforms, study guides, PowerPoint presentations, video content and assignments on a variety of the topics we go over in class – nothing actually replaces the hands-on portion in this course.”

An area nursing home allowed five nurse aide students to finish the last two weeks of the program after the campus closed. “These students have since completed the program and are employed in the workforce,” said Naccarato, “and provisions have been made for them to test for certification after the testing sites are reopened in mid-May.”

Students in both the Medical Administrative Specialist, Medical Coding and Phlebotomy programs are also finishing their classes online and will also be able to finish and graduate at the end of the semester. “Thankfully, the phlebotomy practicums were completed earlier in the program,” said Naccarato.

“With respect to the Medical Assisting program, the accrediting body has not relaxed the hands-on skills lab requirements for the program,” said Naccarato. “These students will need to finish up when they can get their training finished and skills checked off in person – hopefully, this will occur over the summer.”

“Glen Oaks is pleased to do what we can to help our healthcare students meet the requirements and graduate students at the end of this semester,” said Naccarato, “even if it means in some cases they are providing limited services to patients in the interim.”

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