Lab concerns

Hillary Hetrick and Jordyn Toscano

The transition of all Los Medanos College lecture classes to online lectures will take place from March 16 to April 13, or until further notice, based on health recommendations from the Contra Costa Community College District. 

As a result, many students and staff are concerned about what will be happening to lab sources for the next month.

Hands-on LMC classes such as Automotive Technology or pottery are being negatively affected by the transference of all lecture classes online, as such classes rely on in person interactions to sufficiently teach students.

“It might get to the point where you can’t teach welding or appliance repair online,” said Natalie Hannum, Dean of Workforce and Economic Development. “For courses that will still meet face to face, I’m here to reinforce the directives put out to protect oneself such as hand washing, not touching your face, encouraging students, staff and faculty to not come to work if they are sick, and to report if they are symptomatic of COVID-19, so appropriate measures of containment can be made.”

The nursing program is one of many hands-on learning experiences at LMC that has felt an impact on their studies due to the COVID-19 virus thus far.

In order to graduate, nursing students must have training or clinical hours completed in a hospital setting for experience, yet all hospitals in the area have suspended clinicals at this time. 

“Many of our clinical sites have temporarily suspended nursing student clinical schedules until further notice,” said nursing instructor Maryanne Hicks. “It is unfortunate that nursing facilities had to resort to suspensions, but we fully understand the temporary policy implemented by the healthcare organizations.” 

In order to acquire the training they need to transfer, there is clinical simulation available for all nursing students at LMC. There are three types of simulation available, ranging from low to medium to high fidelity.

For example, students can listen to heart and lung sounds and find abnormalities in a low simulation. Medium and high fidelity simulations both allow a more realistic experience for students  since the devices used are mannequins. 

Medium fidelity is “a more technologically sophisticated device which more closely resembles a real human,” said Hicks in a presentation. 

High fidelity simulations feature “a mannequin which is realistic in multiple aspects such as vitals sign depiction, heart and lung sounds, and procedural realism.” 

Albeit, simulations cannot replace all the training hours required for state nursing licensure.

“About 25 percent of [training] can be done through … simulation but it’s not going to be all the clinical credit they need,” said Nursing Department Chair Joanne Bent.

 Students need about 300 hours of clinical training to fulfill state licensure requirements and because nursing facilities have suspended their clinical schedules, students might not have enough credits to transfer.

For more information on the effects of the COVID-19 virus on lab classes, please contact your lab class instructors.

“I would encourage students to use valid resources such as the Contra Costa County Health Department to be informed as well,” said Hannum.