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WIC, WVWC team up for virtual learning

Submitted photo Wesleyan Nursing professor Melissa Franke and Randolph-Elkins WIC Program nutritionist Cindy Hughes worked together to create a alternative to in-person observation and learning for WVWC students. Hughes developed case scenarios of WIC families that included a variety of WIC-related issues and topics that she counsels every day and presented them to Franke. Franke communicated the case scenarios with WVWC nursing students and they met independently in small groups through Zoom to discuss and problem solve their family scenarios.

ELKINS — Virtual learning with the click of a button — as senior college students struggle to complete their educations virtually, find preceptorships, and get exposed to real-world scenarios and experiences, WIC found a way to help.

The Randolph-Elkins WIC Program has had a long-standing relationship with the nursing department of their local private institution West Virginia Wesleyan College. In past years, senior nursing students would rotate through the WIC clinic during their community and public health sector of coursework. During that time in the clinic they would observe clerical, medical and counseling sessions for both nutrition and breastfeeding, therefore gathering valuable knowledge with real-life subjects.

COVID-19 put a halt on that routine practice for Fall 2020. Nursing professor Melissa Franke and Nutritionist Cindy Hughes had to do some creative thinking to help students meet their senior requirements.

With correspondence and problem solving, Franke and Hughes developed an alternative to in-person observation and learning. Hughes developed case scenarios of WIC families that included a variety of WIC-related issues and topics that she counsels every day and presented them to Franke. Franke communicated the case scenarios with WVWC nursing students and they met independently in small groups through Zoom to discuss and problem solve their family scenarios.

Franke also had the students visit the West Virginia WIC website, watch the “Welcome to WIC” video to explore and learn more the program prior to meeting with WIC staff. After completing their independent case studies in small groups, students then met with WIC staff and Franke through Zoom to discuss the details of their case study.

Breastfeeding Counselor Michele Thacker also communed with students, Franke and Hughes to give guidance and address breastfeeding issues within the case studies.

Thacker said, “Although these times have been challenging, it has allowed us to come up with creative ways to collaborate. This meeting was a great learning experience for us and for the nursing students. The case studies were a fun and interactive way for the students to get a feel of what we do here at WIC on a daily basis and the common challenges we see.”

There were two Zoom meetings with students, each lasting about one hour in duration. The sessions were interactive and were successful in providing students with real-life WIC scenarios, officials said.

Franke stated, “Cindy Hughes and Michelle Thacker were wonderful collaborators in the effort to provide a meaningful, educational, clinical learning experience for our West Virginia Wesleyan College Undergraduate Senior Students in Nursing utilizing Zoom to comply with physical distancing and safety during our pandemic. Cindy and Michelle took the lead as they created case studies, provided preclinical exposure to the Women, Children, and Infants (WIC) website, and lead the post conference debriefing with the students.

“Students shared in their clinical reflections how much they enjoyed working with Cindy and Michelle’s culturally appropriate case studies and how much they learned in the post conference. The students shared how impressed they were with WIC program and plan utilize this knowledge in the future to help guide others who care for children under five years of age.”

WVWC and the Randolph-Elkins WIC program found “virtual” success when thinking outside of the box and engaging students in a slightly different way.

Hughes said, “The virtual zoom meetings between our WIC staff and WVWC proved to be a wonderful way to help students learn more about WIC and community health. We hope to incorporate more virtual learning opportunities for students through the duration of the pandemic.”

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