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Keeping prelicensure BSN students abreast of COVID-19 disease management

By: Angelica C. Hernandez, MSN-Ed, RN

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the delivery of nursing classes and changed the clinical requirements that boards of nursing set for each state. These changes can have an impact on patient safety and clinical nursing practice. It’s important for nurse educators to prepare prelicensure BSN students for managing patients with COVID-19 or those who have possibly contracted the infection. Here are some ways to accomplish that.

Nursing curriculum

The nursing curriculum teaches the concepts of the prevention and control of infection, which includes surveillance and detection, isolation, quarantine, and containment, standards, contact and airborne precautions, proper handwashing, cough and respiratory etiquette, and the selection and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE). These concepts can all be expanded to incorporate COVID-19 pathophysiology, symptoms, diagnostic testing, and management.

Teaching strategies

Nurse educators can use different teaching strategies to help prelicensure BSN students understand the importance of understanding COVID-19 pathophysiology, symptoms, diagnostic tests, and management. Even though the COVID-19 disease management is continuously evolving, as nurse educators, we must keep ourselves abreast of all the changes and updates so that we can educate our students about it.

The teaching strategies that nurse educators can use include high-fidelity simulation technology, case studies, and problem-based learning.

  • High-fidelity simulation can help the students understand the complex clinical scenarios and broaden their knowledge on how to manage in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Case studies present realistic and complex clinical scenarios that can help students to apply basic science knowledge and skills such as clinical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving.
  • Problem-based learning can also stimulate clinical reasoning and the ability to solve existing problems or challenges in a clinical scenario.

Nurse educators must use appropriate teaching strategies to provide high-quality education to prelicensure BSN students; therefore, guiding these future RNs in applying the theory to clinical practice.

Transition to safe clinical practice

Nurse educators can help prelicensure BSN students to stay abreast of the evolving evidence-based practices of managing patients with COVID-19. Though prelicensure BSN students now provide limited direct care to patients who might have the infection already, nurse educators also need to provide instruction on this topic on-campus or through a virtual classroom setting. Updating the nursing curriculum will help to guide nurse educators on how and where to incorporate content. It’s essential for nurse educators to educate the prelicensure BSN students about COVID-19 disease management, not only to prepare them for this specific disease but also to prepare them on how to respond to global pandemics.

Angelica C. Hernandez is an assistant professor at Chamberlain University in Miramar, Florida.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2020). Considerations for COVID-19 Preparedness and Response in U.S. Schools of Nursing. aacnnursing.org/News-Information/COVID-19/AACN-Recommendations.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Coronavirus (COVID-19). cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Symptoms of coronavirus. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Colleges, universities and higher learning: Plan, prepare and respond. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/colleges-universities/index.html.

Phillips JM. Strategies to promote student engagement and active learning. In DM Billings and J A. Halstead, eds. Teaching in Nursing: A Guide for Faculty (6th Ed). Elsevier; 2019:286-303.

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