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COVID's Impact on Histology Programs

NSH asked our student members to share their experiences during COVID-19. How has COVID-19 impacted their learning, postponed their graduation, and changed the way they view the world? This post features responses from two students, Keishla Rivera from Florida State College and Justin Murdy from Goodwin University.


How COVID-19 Made an Impact in my Histology Program

First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Keishla Rivera, I reside in the beautiful sunshine state and I recently finished my AA in Histologic Technology at Florida State College at Jacksonville!! This journey definitely had its ups and downs, but I achieved my goal.


As we all know, the last semester of college is the most brutal. In my case, I was in practicum. Although it was exciting, it was stressful as well. You put your knowledge and skill set to the test.


So how did COVID-19 affect me? Well for starters, I lost my job 2 weeks before my final exams. Losing a job is hard in itself but it was worse since I had finals coming up. Not only did I have the stress of passing my exams, I had the stress of paying bills with no income! My focus was more on my livelihood, instead of my exams. It was really a struggle for me to shift gears when studying. The last week before finals, I thought about all the hard work I had achieved and how far I had come and that was my motivation and drive to study. It paid off and I aced my exams!


Fast forward to now. I’ve finished school but unlike past graduating classes, I don’t get to walk in a ceremony. I don’t get to celebrate my achievements the way most graduates do. My cap and tassel were mailed to me and shortly after, I received my diploma. My graduation ceremony will be hosted online, which to me is a bummer, but I understand that safety measures had to be put in place. Although COVID-19 has brought struggle to my life, I’m thankful for the support of family and friends because they have helped me get to where I am today.



A Virus Can Affect More Than Just A Body


COVID-19 disrupted everything about our lives, leaving nothing untouched. As far as anyone knows it is not done yet. I am a Histology student at Goodwin University enrolled in their hybrid program. This means that the educational aspect of my learning is done online while any lab and internship activities are done on campus or at an approved location. When the Coronavirus hit during the Spring semester, it ended abruptly in the middle of a practical exam. The beginning of the Summer semester started with no onsite lab for the first three weeks then notification that our group would be split into two, with each group having one day a week in the laboratory. While one day a week is better than nothing, it is not as good as the normal two days a week for three hours. There is less time for me to learn and practice what I need to be successful and confident in my abilities. Everything must either be condensed, or aspects must be omitted. I feel cheated. I feel wronged. It stole time and experience. There is nothing I can do about that, except acknowledge those feelings, push through but never forget them, and try to do my best to learn and be the best version of a Histotech that I can be in a COVID-19 world. I am fearful and angry that my program tract may have to be pushed back because of the virus, and those feelings still persist due to the uncertainty of how it will affect future events. With the uncertainty this virus continues to bring, it is still possible that I may not graduate on time, regardless of reassurances. I do not blame my school. I blame the virus.

Besides time and experience being ripped away; I get less of a benefit from my teachers and fellow students. Different viewpoints, ways of learning and teaching, personalities that help each other, and comradery are lessened, not in quality but in quantity. Enrichment takes a hit. The full program experience is lost, irreparably altered. Maybe all this hardship will give me an edge that most people in my field do not possess.


Experience can be gained through work or school, but that is difficult with an uncertain job outlook and less laboratory time. Will there be positions available when I graduate? Will I have to contend against those with more experience and education who lost their jobs? Robbery and thievery are typically frowned upon; yet, how do you bring a virus to justice?

It is hard to write about what I feel and how I feel it. I am still in the middle of it, as are all of us! There are ramifications that I am sure I have not even considered yet, just as there might be positives that are hard to see through the fog of frustration. Commiseration with my classmates may help slightly, but they are also dealing with their own feelings and struggles with the effect of COVID-19, and some may not even feel slighted. The program itself may never be the same. I hope that future students of the program never have to go through a situation such as this. Life never plays fair and we do not always get what we deserve, but hope must be held firm. I admit it is difficult for me to believe that and to continue to do so. I struggle. I will not paint myself as a saint or a person with unwavering hope. My experience is my own and no one else can live it as I do. That does not mean I am alone; it is a struggle to share. Even writing this whole paper is not entirely easy, but it does help, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story with those that are open and want to read what I have to say. Stay strong out there. Continue to push forward.

ABOUT NSH

The National Society for Histotechnology is a professional member organization for individuals actively involved in the histology profession. NSH has over 3,000 members worldwide, and is the leading provider of histology focused continuing education.  

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