CSUB graduate programs requiring hands-on experience forced to adjust during pandemic to help students reach success

September 1, 2020 /

Covid-19 has dramatically changed the classroom environment for many college students in graduate programs. 

With the CSU system ordering all classes be online this Fall semester, many graduate programs require hands-on experience to gain knowledge of the field; however, with the pandemic still very present in Kern County, many students and professors have had to adapt to new ways of fulfilling program requirements and gaining the experience necessary to be successful. Cal State Bakersfield’s Counseling Psychology Masters Program and Masters Nursing Program are two programs that have made adjustments. 

“We are complying and making adjustments to ensure our students are well-trained as future therapists, regardless of whether they are meeting face-to-face or online,” said Dr. William Kelly, the Counseling Psychology program director. 

Students in the counseling program are required to partake in training clinics, where student therapists see clients under supervision. Although previously done mostly face-to-face, students are adapting to holding clinics online with their patients, according to Kelly. 

Class meetings, group projects, and sessions with clients will all be on an online platform. Kelly ensured that students will do all the same assignments required, be under supervision, and receive feedback just as they would if they were in-person.

In order to prepare for the virtual sessions, student therapists are required to partake in an online therapy training.

“Because we are training therapists and value interpersonal interactions, we are offering our classes and supervision in ‘real-time’ rather than asynchronously,” Kelly said.

Although students and professors are doing the best they can to adapt to the changes given the pandemic, there are some concerns. Students will not be able to be in the same room with clients, and students will not be together to help one another on assignments that would usually require multiple people, such as role playing.

CSUB’S Nursing program has undergone similar changes, as well. Nursing Department Chair Deborah Boschini said the program staff is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to support and educate more nurses to care for Bakersfield in the future.

With the semester beginning just a few weeks ago, all students are enrolled and prepared to graduate without delay, according to Boschini. 

But just as the counseling program is experiencing, there are now new guidelines the students nurses must follow during the pandemic.

In order to follow CDC guidelines, there are daily Covid-10 screening and a mandate for masks and shields. Additionally, there are protocols in place for staying home and returning to work. 

All courses for this program are being delivered online, but thankfully, In previous years, nursing faculty members had already completed training on effective online instruction and many courses already had online components. 

In regards to clinical rotations, local hospitals have developed new policies to make sure their patients and the students of CSUB are all safe. However, some students worry about not being able to complete their clinical hour requirement. But Boschini was thinking ahead and came up with a fall-back plan.

“We have an excellent Simulation Center on campus to practice nursing care using high-fidelity

Mannequins,” said Boschini. “Like pilots in the aviation industry, our students can practice with simulators to prepare for both routine and emergency situations.” .

Under these unprecedented circumstances, future health care workers are forced to adapt to new ways of learning. CSUB staff is working hard to ensure maintain their quality of education and real-job readiness in their counseling and nursing programs.

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