This blog post is the third in a series of talking about trends in both the field and in adult education based on my recent new studies at VCC.
I connected with my learning partner who's in the field of Nursing and I found our conversation quite fascinating and eye opening. I'm particularly fascinated and grateful to have a learning partner in the field of Nursing because at one point, I went back to school for a second degree in Nursing. I was astonished by the scope and depth a Nurse needs to learn and understand, and I also began to see the reality of the role. At the time, I made the choice to leave Nursing—though that experience forever changed my perception of the Nursing profession - leaving me with a high respect for the gravity of work and responsibility a Nurse endures.
So, in speaking to my learning partner - I saw this at an escalated rate, especially with the recent events of Covid and the toll that has taken on Nurses, and the trends she reported in the field of Nursing.
The main trends have been major burnout and quitting en mass. Many people are leaving the profession after forced overtime, forced increase in patient load, and forced to be in different units than one is trained for. For example an OR Nurse being forced into ICU who is not equipped to dispense drugs or the duties of ICU but due to nursing shortages would be forced to the ICU when the need was great during Covid. This created more work for the charge nurses and regular ICU nurses who now had to also train these nurses while also taking care of an overload of patients. This paints a picture that is just the tip of the iceberg of the gravity of stress placed upon Nurses during Covid.
Additionally, the overabundance of sick and dying people in the ICU took a toll on mental and emotional health. After all—although Nurses are overworked beyond human capacity, they are humans and not robots. With that comes emotional heartache when seeing so much death around you - more than is typical to see which is what Covid brought into the experience of the lives of Nurses.
As explained by my learning partner: What became clear is that Canada's Health Care System is broken and Nurses feel it is clear that the BC Health Authority does not care about nurses. They don't care about the individuals, they simply see nurses as bodies to do the job. This is devastating. No wonder there is a trend to mass exodus in the Nursing Profession.
Additionally, as BC sees this problem emerging, they are opening more seats in the Nursing Programs at Colleges and Universities. However the problem is a shortage of Nursing Instructors due to the overall sense of burnout.
Despite the burnout, my learning partner said something along the lines of "At the heart of it, I still care about the nursing profession, and I'd like to teach the new nurses about the core values of empathy and the humanistic side to Nursing." The unfortunate problem rests in the government's lack of support to ensure nurses are supported.
On another note, in speaking with my learning partner we also spoke about the trends in adult education, and we both saw a trend towards an increase of online learning, along with an increase in the trend of hybrid education. For example, in Nursing this means the theoretical concepts are taught online while the hands-on application happens in the classroom. This hybrid model is also used in Spa Therapy programs at the College I teach for, and I can see it being a helpful learning approach across many modalities.
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