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Live! Inside a Nursing skills lab

In this series, we provide a closer look at hands-on learning during COVID-19.

While COVID-19 means online learning for most Tidewater Community College students, many are in the classroom for hands-on training. In fact, more than 400 sections of classes in interior design, automotive, health professions, welding, veterinary technology, culinary arts, visual arts, electronics technology and other programs have on-campus components. 

A peek inside a Nursing skills lab

Clinical skills labs offer nursing students the opportunity to be hands-on with what they learned in theory. Because of precautions related to COVID-19, NSG106 is taught in a hybrid format with social distancing measures in place. Simulated labs in Building C on the Portsmouth Campus are lined with hospital beds holding “patients” (mannequins), each with an individualized chart. Today’s skill is wound care. The future nurses practice how to change dressing for a wound while assessing for signs of healing or potential complications related to infection.

They practice wound irrigation and document all findings in a simulated electronic medical record.

“We’re testing their critical thinking skills about how they would a handle a situation due to an abnormal finding,” said Rita Bouchard, associate dean of TCC’s Beazley School of Nursing.

Additional skills labs in a student nurse’s initial semester include sterile techniques, catheter insertion, dosage calculation and safe medication administration.

The students will be tested on all skills to access their competency prior to Thanksgiving.

Student voices

“I’m a hands-on learner, so this is what I do best.” — Karen Everett

“We do assessments, IV tubing, dress wounds — all the interesting fun staff — in here.” — Montana Chambers

Student Casey assesses a wound under the direction of Davis.

“It’s nice to practice all the hands-on skills here before you have to do them in an actual clinical setting.” — Katie Casey

“The best part is practicing our clinical skills.” — Will Howard

About the instructor

Assistant professor Catina Davis works one-on-one during skills labs to answer specific questions, offer constructive advice and remind the students not to overlook any of the details on their checklist. Davis started at TCC as an adjunct professor in 2016. She holds a doctorate in nursing practice from Walden University, a master’s with a focus in nursing education from Old Dominion University and a bachelor’s of nursing from Norfolk State University. Davis also has maternal newborn and medical surgical nursing experience.

Howard documents his findings.

Good to know

Even first-semester nursing students participate in clinical rotations. Each spends a total of 45 hours at either a Sentara or Bon Secours facility. “Everything they learned today,” Davis said, “they will be ready to do onsite.”

More information

Learn about TCC’s associate degree program in nursing here or contact