Preparing for Virtual Labs

USAHS, as an innovative leader in delivering digital learning experiences in the health sciences, is meeting the challenge of COVID-19 by leveraging our 40 years of excellence and expertise in delivering innovative approaches to instruction.  

For the past 40 years, USAHS has been an innovative leader in distance learning. We are  meeting the challenge of COVID-19 by leveraging our resiliency, expertise, and commitment to academic excellence and quality.

During the period of “virtual instruction,” we are developing faculty-led innovative approaches to lab session design and facilitation that ensures that you will continue to learn, practice, master, and demonstrate hands-on skills. Your faculty will do this using a combination of strategies including:

  • Both live streamed and pre-recorded lab demonstrations from faculty, which can be viewed as many times as you need on demand. Many of these demonstrations are being professionally recorded in our campus lab or simulation environments, so the videos are professional quality enabling you to thoroughly learn the skill/technique and concepts with clarity.

  • At-home lab plans. Our quality faculty-developed demonstration videos are combined with innovative, creative, and instructive at-home lab learning exercises. While adhering to social distancing guidelines, you will be encouraged where possible to use friends, family, as well as online student partners to practice and apply skills and concepts, as assigned in your lab activity plans. If you are using a lab volunteer and recording your exercises, you will use our Informed Consent Form, and return it to your faculty.  
    Download Informed Consent Form here.  

  • Completion of lab activities via live streaming or recorded videos, for observation and feedback from faculty and your peers. As part of your lab session documentation, you may be asked use your webcam and microphone to live stream or pre-record your lab practice exercises. Faculty and peers will be able to give you feedback so that you can repeat, iterate, and advance your skills in your own learning environment.  As you review your own video, you can self-assess. As you review others’ video, you will sharpen your critical thinking and debriefing skills, making you a more observant, perceptive, and competent practitioner. Tele-health and tele-medicine are the trends of the future. This learning experience will help you develop the essential skills to be a skilled and successful future tele-practitioner. 

  • Lab Materials. For some at-home lab exercises, you will use specific materials and items. Lab plans are being developed by faculty to simulate authentic environments at home and enable hands-on practice. Refer to your course Syllabus for information.

  • Virtual simulations using Simulation IQ live streaming, and pre-recorded CICP media. Virtual simulations are patient cases representing authentic clinical environments, supported by video, where you will have an opportunity to make clinical decisions in simulated practice areas and then reflect and debrief with your peers using interactive conferencing technologies. This approach will help to hone your clinical decision making, professional communication, and critical thinking and problem solving skills - and, doing this in a tele-health environment uniquely prepares you for the future of tele-health.

What are the advantages of this virtual lab approach?

  • On-demand skills and concept review. Because all lab techniques and sessions are recorded and stored in the course, you have the ability to review techniques and skills on-demand and as often as you need, which strengthens learning and retention. Because you have access to your Blackboard courses for as long as you are a USAHS student, you will always be able to return to these videos to review and reinforce skills and concepts.

  • Self-assessment. As you create your own personal library of video assignments for lab practice, you are able to review your own video as often as you need to reflect on your learning proactively through self-observation and reflection. Combined with faculty and peer feedback your learning and preparation for clinical fieldwork are enhanced. 

  • Individualized learning. In this virtual setting, labs are even more individualized than in our face to face setting, as you will receive specific individual feedback on your performance and mastery of critical lab skills. The use of digital video enables iterative review and ongoing skills confidence.

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