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Nursing students overcome challenges during COVID-19 pandemic

Because nursing is centered around caring for others, students had to change their learning drastically, but were able to make changes work.

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — For many, the pandemic ushered in a 'new normal,' but for some like local healthcare students, the change took on a whole new meaning.  

"We just kept moving forward and the world needs more nurses, we couldn't stop just because of COVID," Midlands Technical College (MTC) Nursing Instructor and Registered Nurse Kelly Horn said. 

Horn has spent the last 20 plus years molding caregivers.

"We couldn't go out to the clinical area, that was a very big change that happened over night," Horn said. "We have turned to more simulation and alternate experiences, so that the students would be prepared not only book smart, but have the dexterity."

Kirstin Pfaehler graduated during the pandemic, and is now a nurse. Learning during the pandemic was not an easy task, according to Pfaehler.

"We suddenly switched to a complete online format, there was a lot of anxiety going through, especially the summer semester because we were wondering are we going to have enough clinical hours to graduate," Pfaehler said.

Her passion and drive kept her motivated.

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"I knew when I was deciding on a career that I wanted to choose something where I would walk away every single day knowing I made some sort of impact," Pfaehler said.

Because nursing is centered around caring for others, students had to change their learning drastically, but were able to make changes work.

"You have that sense of I know I can do this, I can make a difference, I can be a difference," nursing student Kyerah Wright said.

Wright is currently in the nursing program at MTC, and said her future career is all about the unexpected.

"It's kind of you did it backwards a little bit, you started off slow with your thinking then you pick up the pace because we will be able to go back in facilities," Wright said.

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Wright and her other classmates are using simulation training to prepare for clinicals. Meanwhile, graduate Pfaehler said the changes, though difficult, have made her a better nurse.  

 "We have in a sense an advantage because we have now seen one of the most difficult healthcare situations to hit our nation, the world, and we're seeing the effects of that," Pfaehler said. "We know the difficulties and are still saying yeah, I want to be a part of this profession."

Horn said there is always a need for nurses, and is thankful for the students who adapted through this process.

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