by Noor Ul Ain Janjua Zaidi, RHIT
The COVID-19 widespread has alarmed the HIM students around the world. We all know that most of the colleges and universities offer the HIM degree 100% online. The question is how it affects the students when the classes were already virtual?
Coding courses were always the biggest fear for the students whether they take it in class or online. This course is now available on Zoom class but still, students don’t understand it in the same way because now other external factors are taking their focus away from the class. This is a challenge for both the students and the teachers.
Not all the students have the privacy to study because most people are in the house and working from home, doing homeschooling, or have even taken a break from school because they cannot submit their assignments on time or cannot focus on their studies. Going out and sitting in the library is also not an option. Things are different now after the coronavirus outbreak. Some students can do well in group study which they are still doing online but still missing that special state of sitting together with friends away from the house environment and having some privacy for studies.
The virtual academic style needs more determination, time, and scheduled routine which if it gets disturbed, can divert your attention from your course. There are many courses in HIM fields which need distraction-free time and space like outpatient coding, inpatient coding, classification of diseases and many other courses that need a fresh and carefree mind which is in these days a big challenge for the students. This pandemic will serve as an example in a lot of in-class and virtual class discussions. During on-campus classes, students are sitting in the academic environment and have a chance to meet the instructor after the class and talk about how to manage the stress of education and taking advice about their careers, while they are struggling to do virtual classes by staying online and submitting assignments. Let me explain this with an example. There is an XYZ family of six people living in a two-bedroom apartment - mom, dad and four kids. Mom and dad are doing work from home while kids are doing homeschooling. They do not have six computers or laptops to do their work. Frustration, de-motivation, and financial stress are also the factors which are demoralizing the student’s strength of taking courses.
Many families have lost their loved ones during this pandemic. Some have lost loved one, but many have lost more than one person because coronavirus has traumatized many in the family. This is also one of the big challenges for the HIM student to focus on the studies and stay determined. Some students have changed their minds and said that they want to take a break as they cannot continue their degree with so many things going on at the same time and it does make sense. Others are doing their best to stay in a normal state of mind and complete their degree to feel successful.
The hardest time during a degree is your final year where you must do your internship to gain hands-on experience. But this year internships are also not the same. To avoid human traffic in the hospitals and administrative buildings, students are doing it virtually as well. Yes, it is true - students are sitting on their screens to learn a hands-on experience. An example is scanning documents - not everyone has a scanner at home, and they are just watching a video to understand the scanning process. It’s hard to remember just by seeing and not doing it by yourself. Also, understanding the software like EPIC and CAC was much easier for the students who have done it on site but now they are learning that part also with the shared screen which we know is hard. It is not possible to give them passwords and sign up because of data security and privacy. Everything has a solution and that’s why the HIM program is still working in the market and comparatively, people are now looking for degrees that can give them work from home jobs and HIM is one of them with a promising future.
This pandemic has brought challenges for the course instructors as well. Sharing the screen with the students and going back and forth, keeping track of their course material during the virtual class, and not seeing them on campus is also very emotional for the instructor. Most of us cannot feel because we are not in their shoes. Instructors cannot force every student to keep their camera on as they respect every student and understand that maybe students don’t want to share their screen or feel comfortable with that. Instructors are trying their best to make the course material and lecture delivery more understandable than before because of the complication students are already facing by taking the class virtually. Teachers are also going through almost the same house environment, like house chores, privacy issues, family issues and running their lives.
I would like all of you to stand up and praise yourself, give a huge round of applause to yourself that you (teachers and students) are doing so great during this pandemic and doing whatever possible. Have faith and together we can face the challenges.
Noor Ul Ain Janjua Zaidi, RHIT is a Committee Member on OHIMA’s Newsletter Committee in FY 2020-21. She also served as committee member on OHIMA’s Young Leadership committee in FY 2019-2020. Noor graduated with her HIM Associate Degree from Sinclair Community College and earned her RHIT. She also has a Master of Public Administration with Human Resource Management as her major from University of Karachi, Pakistan.