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Experiential Learning Spotlight: Critical Conversations for Health Professionals

Image showing an overlay of two heartlines with text saying, "Office of Global Affairs and Experiential Learning: Critical Conversations for Health Professionals During COVID-19 Era"

In Spring 2021, the Office of Global Affairs and Experiential Learning launched a webinar series called “Critical Conversations for Health Professionals During the COVID-19 Era.” These webinars featured faculty from NYU Steinhardt, NYU Langone, and the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.

Dr. Susan Cohen, associate clinical professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and director of the Palliative Care Program in the Bellevue Hospital Center, discussed the mental and emotional toll of COVID-19 on healthcare professionals, patients, and families.  Dr. Cohen reviewed the challenges and the ethical decisions health care professionals face and highlighted the impact of moral injury. Dr. Cohen also stressed the importance of identifying strategies for self-care.

A second webinar was used to explore racial health disparities and COVID-19. Dr. Stella Flores, associate professor of higher education and director of access and equity at the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy collaborated with Dr. Erica Merriwether, assistant professor in the department of physical therapy and director of the Inclusive and Translational Research in Pain Laboratory (I-TRIP). Together, Drs. Flores and Merriwether provided a review of the historical factors contributing to racial ongoing disparities in access to and quality of healthcare for communities of color in the United States. They also explored how racial health disparities emerge in the field of physical therapy and how that can shape the ways in which health providers offer care to patients. In closing, Drs. Flores and Merriwether offered strategies for improving one’s cultural competence and using that as a way to facilitate equitable healthcare experiences for Black American, Asian, Latinx/Hispanic, and Native American communities.

The culminating program featured three faculty from the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing: Dr. Brian Fasolka, Danielle Fox, and Charles Tilley. They provided their insights on the advantages of simulated learning for students in the health professions. The outbreak of COVID-19 severely limited students’ access to on-site clinical experiences, which prompted health programs to transform their experiential learning offerings rapidly. Simulated learning allowed nursing students to maintain academic continuity during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, but also underscored the need to integrate simulated learning more deeply into the curriculum. Fasolka, Fox, and Tilley shared their experiences developing simulating modules and provided an overview of best practices for fostering student engagement and assessing student learning. NYU Steinhardt community members and other participants discussed the use of simulated learning experiences in their own programs and institutions.  

More than 100 attendees attended these webinars. All webinars are posted on the Experiential Learning Toolkit website and may be viewed at any time.