Paula Reid

May 18, 2020

Paula Reid recognized that a few of her graduate students, including nurses on the front lines of the pandemic, were struggling due to stress and concerns about COVID-19. She picked up the phone to check on them and to see how she could offer help.

“When you’re in a stressful situation, it can be hard to process. I realized a phone call may be the best form of communication,” said Reid, an associate professor in the School of Nursing. “During the calls, I was able to connect with students and work through the steps to establish the foundation for their final projects. There were multiple variables going on; some had hours cut at work and concerns about clinical hours.”

Reid’s graduate classes were online prior to the transition to remote instruction. The asynchronous online learning format works best for graduate students that are practicing registered nurses, she said, as it offers the most flexibility to juggle competing priorities. Asynchronous learning happens on the individual’s schedule. Instructors provide reading materials, video lectures, assignments and exams on an online platform, and students have the ability to access and satisfy class requirements within a flexible time frame.

One of the challenges of online classes is the inability to visualize non-verbal behaviors and measure the tenor of the student and class, she explained.

“I know my own feelings, concerns, uncertainties and anxieties,” said Reid. “It was not rocket science for me to imagine they were at the same place, and changed some assignments to decrease some impending pressure and stress.”

The COVID-19 crisis does not remove or change the service responsibilities associated with a tenured senior faculty member, Reid continued. “Life goes on…multiple Zoom meetings and preparations for the summer and fall semester.”

The pandemic has hit close to home for Reid. Two family members, who live outside of North Carolina, tested positive for the virus and were hospitalized. Her 90-year-old mother, who lives in Kansas City, was hospitalized for a health issue not related to COVID-19. She was not allowed visitors. During that time, Reid’s aunt passed away. She was unable to attend the funeral due to Kansas City’s stay-at-home order.

“Living alone during this ‘stay-at-home’ period for a social person is difficult,” she said. “Sitting on the porch and communicating with neighbors at a distance is an answer to prayer. We are all in this together, but in different ways for different people.”

-- Venita Jenkins