Brookline College is not letting COVID-19 prevent them from educating their students. In just two weeks, the college—with campuses in Arizona and New Mexico—has gone completely online with all of their training, which includes several nursing and healthcare programs.

Brookline College is not letting COVID-19 prevent them from educating their students. In just two weeks, the college—with campuses in Arizona and New Mexico—has gone completely online with all of their training, which includes several nursing and healthcare programs.

Janet Melton, Chief Academic Officer at Brookline, says, “We had most of our programs in a blended [online and on-campus] program already. We took our solutions and plugged them into our programs in an online modality.” That meant hooking up students and faculty who needed home computers with Chrome books and “getting everyone up to speed with technology.”

The task was easier for students studying non-clinical fields, but it presented a challenge for nursing and healthcare students. Those students required more sophisticated equipment and software. “The Arizona Board of Nursing was all on board,” says Jan Kramer, Vice President of Nursing. Brookline worked with a simulation company and repurposed computers from the computer lab to bring everything online—even lab and clinical simulations. Nursing exams are also being administered online with remote proctoring.

“We did the migration so quickly so students could continue on their career paths,” Melton says. “We’re hoping that [the pandemic] will not affect graduation, as long as the students are progressing in their programs.” Some students have chosen to take a temporary leave of absence, however, due to financial setbacks from job loss or for those whose family members have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Many states are waiving licensure protocol for nursing and healthcare students so they may help out during the pandemic. Arizona is one of them. Students in allied health programs need to help patients who are not just ill with COVID but still not delay their graduation. Melton says, “Our physical therapy assistant students are able to get provisional licenses, but they still have to come back to finish their program once COVID is over.”

“Once nursing students finish their requirements, they can apply for temporary status,” Kramer says. They will still have to take the licensing board exams but giving them a temporary license saves time. Normally, Kramer says, licensing takes one to six weeks for testing, processing and approval by the Board of Nursing during normal times. “I expect that with the pandemic, many test centers are closing,” she says, “and there will be a bottleneck that would take a lot longer.”

Brookline has taken other measures to bring some semblance of normalcy to education. The school is conducting classroom polling to ensure continuous feedback from students and is implementing virtual meeting rooms to continue the feeling of in-classroom engagement. Additionally, there is the “Brookline Backyard,” a virtual “hang out” where students can discuss their classes, lives or challenges during this tumultuous time. “Students are more comfortable with their own peers,” Melton says, “and this is a place for students to gather.”

Although no one knows for sure what a “post-COVID” world will look like, most agree it will be different. “The world is not ever going to be quite the same,” Kramer says. “We’re going into a new sea and will find some things that may be more effective.” On a personal note, Kramer says without her daily commute she is able to make better use of her time.”

Melton says that until this is over, she and her colleagues are “trying to be as supportive as possible for all our students. Having to do it remotely is hard; it makes it tough to really help them in anyway.”

With ingenuity and perseverance, Brookline College is finding ways to make lemonade out of lemons.