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Tonianne Quillen always dreamt about a career as a nurse but like many students, the COVID 19 pandemic brought many new challenges. Online learning was not easy.

“I struggled harder than I ever struggled because I can’t do zoom learning,” Quillen said. But despite it all, she is more determined than ever to excel. 

Quillen is a medical-surgical nursing student retaking her second semester. She is highly motivated and adamant on graduating LaGuardia Community College (LaGCC). Her determination is shared by many in the Nursing program.  

LaGCC’s Nursing program remains popular among students even amidst a global pandemic. The program offers hands-on practical training in clinics and hospitals. Students have a record of exceptional performance at the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), a standardized test used to certify licensed practical nurses and registered nurses. 

“Our pass rates are above all four-year CUNY’s. We also exceeded pass rates of private nursing schools including NYU and Columbia,” said Faith Armstrong, Director of Nursing program. 

However, the journey was not easy.

In March 2020, the uncertainty of the COVID 19 Pandemic forced administrators to transition all of LaGCC’s in-person classes to various online platforms. Among these classes were many hands-on lab sessions designed to prepare nursing students for the field. These sessions were not typically taught online, but both students and faculty adapted and followed the COVID 19 prevention protocols. 

“We had to teach students how to do vital signs on zoom,” said Armstrong. “At one point I had to use my daughter to demonstrate for the students.

The intensity of the course content was stressed by the exhaustion of zoom fatigue and student engagement dropped.

According to Armstrong, during the earlier stage of the pandemic, the number of onsite clinical studies offered by hospitals and clinics reduced by 50 percentage because of COVID 19 precautions. 

However, this did not deter the innovative minds of students and faculty within the program.

In Fall 2020, they were among the first group of people to return to campus for lab classes. 

“We worked on case studies as a clinical group and made the best of it” said Odalys Santiago, 37, a nursing student. 

“The faculty is extremely supportive whether we were online or in person especially when we were online. They were always available, whether it was by email or even sometimes by text or phone,” said Santiago. Faculty members extended their office hours and resources to meet the needs of their students. 

Students adapted to the COVID 19 restrictions and participated in a series of virtual and hybrid clinical studies with patients and licensed professionals. 

In Fall 2020, there was a surge in enrollment, and it continues to grow. According to Faith Armstrong confirmed that the project received 150 – 200 applications but onsite placements for students within hospitals remained an issue.