Message from the Director
We made through several months of this “new COVID normal.” We welcomed our students back to campus on August 17th and have been able to achieve the learning outcomes we have for them. Here in our community, students and faculty come to clinical with N95s, goggles, and face masks. We all are expected to fill out a self-check app each day and follow the screening guidelines. Our skills labs have students assigned to a unique group in which they will work each week. Faculty are assigned to specific groups. In the classroom, we have measured for social distancing and our students and faculty are in a safe space. Students who cannot come to campus have the ability for real-time attendance in class. This is true for both the BSN and MSN programs. Our RN-BSN and DNP faculty are working and teaching remotely to limit the number on campus and decrease exposure for all. Meetings are held virtually for almost all committees that have more than ten people. In those instances, a majority of those remain virtual.
This pandemic has allowed all the students to work in an environment the faculty has not encountered before. We are supporting efforts on campus to help with contact tracing, wellness and a massive flu shot clinic. The senior community students are in the thick of this public health effort. Our students in the clinical settings have seen how the acute care facilities are dealing with COVID-19 and the related concerns. Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) has been the “saving grace” for our students and for those on the frontline day to day. We are fortunate that our School of Nursing has been able to provide PPE for our programs. The only challenge I see is with the mandatory face mask requirements do not allow us to see the smiles of our students. We are learning to read expressions only seeing eyes.
We have not forgotten the importance of racial equality in this country. There are efforts at UTC to raise awareness of the issues. There are group discussions across campus for faculty and staff. The Counseling Center is hosting groups for students. ‘Moving Forward Together to Dismantle Racism’ is a conference series which will be delivered bi-weekly using one-hour virtual lunch sessions throughout the fall and spring semesters. In light of the stressors on our campus, mental health checks for our students and employees are very important. We feel we that with the challenges we face from a medical and societal viewpoint, our students, faculty and staff are doing as well as can be expected. After all, we are in a profession that takes these challenges seriously and we rise to the occasion.
Christine Benz Smith, PhD, FNP-BC
Director, School of Nursing
Chief Health Affairs Officer