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The year 2020 has been anything but ordinary. These unprecedented times have caused educators across the country to scramble to adjust their processes and lesson plans in order to ensure the safety of their students and faculty.

Classes in the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s College of Nursing (CON) have a major focus on hands-on learning. As a result, many courses require in-person education—something that just wasn’t a possibility for the 2020 spring semester. Professors needed to adapt quickly in order to continue to provide quality education to students during the pandemic.

Kirsten Trundle

UWO Family Nurse Practitioner Director Kirsten Trundle has done her best to meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on the online resources available, such as online class platforms, virtual nursing simulations and electronic meetings through video chat and phone calls.

“The changes we’ve implemented allow us to provide student education in a safe and effective way,” Trundle said.

The need for students to acclimate to changes in course delivery helps prepare them for careers in healthcare.

“We are continuing to provide an environment in our program to create successful family nurse practitioners who will be equipped to meet the demands of the ever-changing healthcare arena,” Trundle said.

Kim Brundidge

In spite of the setbacks caused by transitioning to all online learning mid-semester, Kim Brundidge, instructional academic staff member, said learning objectives continue to be met—and surpassed—by students.

“With the move to virtual clinical simulations, students exemplified strong critical-thinking skills and compassion and were able to put their knowledge into practice,” she said.

Brundidge’s top concern is to continue transitioning her classes into an online format while simultaneously preparing her in- person classes to follow safety guidelines for the fall.

“I want to ensure my online classrooms are engaging and motivating for students,” she said. “I am also preparing for how face-to-face courses will look differently, such as wearing masks, following safe distancing and proper hand-washing.”

Not only are the UWO CON faculty working hard to continue to provide the best possible education to students, they are also doing their part for the community by continuing to work within healthcare facilities.

Working in healthcare while teaching has never been an easy feat, let alone during a worldwide pandemic. It takes flexibility, dedication and strict time management to do so successfully.

Outside of her role as family nurse practitioner director, Trundle works as a family nurse practitioner at Advocate Aurora in Oshkosh.

Trundle said she meets the challenges of her workload by reaching out to other program directors across the country to see what similar programs are doing, receiving support from her peers and staying current with modern practices.

Working while teaching helps her develop lesson plans and allows her to bring up-to-date experiences and knowledge back to students and colleagues.

“Continuing my practice allows me to stay current in evidence- based guidelines. I’m able to bring real-life situations and patient scenarios to students so they can understand what care in family practice looks like during a pandemic,” she explained. “This knowledge helps develop a plan in current and future teaching and clinical endeavors that keep students, faculty and patients safe.”

Finding the perfect balance has been one of the biggest challenges for Brundidge as she continues her practice as a registered nurse at the Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton and teaching as an instructional academic staff member at UWO.

“It is a top priority to be readily available to my students,” she said. “It is also a priority that I fill as many shifts as possible at the hospital in order to help out during this pandemic. I keep a schedule and work ahead when possible in order to keep everything running smoothly.”

With the ever-changing environment of healthcare, Brundidge believes that much of the CON faculty’s success in teaching while working lies in their ability to quickly adapt to changes.

“I personally believe in making the best of any given situation,” she said. “I am thankful for UWO, students, faculty and frontline workers for their efforts to adapt to change quickly in order to keep people as safe and healthy as possible.”