There are a lot of rumors flying around about what will happen with nursing students during the coronavirus pandemic, especially now that hospitals need more help than ever to manage the influx of COVID-19 patients.
The effects of the novel coronavirus on our healthcare system are leaving immense challenges in their wake. Most are unprecedented, and they appear to be affecting nursing programs differently across the board. On top of that, the news narrative surrounding the pandemic is literally changing by the minute.
This begs a very important question during the largest public health crisis that our healthcare system has seen in decades: Should we be calling on our nursing students to help us tackle COVID-19?
Nursing Students Across the Country Join the Front Lines in the Fight Against COVID-19
From Wisconsin to California, student nurses across the country are stepping up to help do their parts during the COVID-19 pandemic. From calling for emergency licenses to stepping up to help with childcare for their fellow nurses, nursing students won’t stop looking for ways to help.
Texas Nursing Students Are Getting a Green Light to Help
In Texas, nursing schools and license regulations are being lifted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Governor of Texas, Gregg Abbot, waved some nursing license regulations to allow nursing students and retired nurses to return to the workforce easily.
“Nurses are essential to our ability to test for this virus, provide care for COVID-19 patients, and to continue providing other essential health care services, Governor Abbott stated. “Suspending these regulations will allow us to bring additional skilled nurses into the workforce to assist with our efforts and enhance our COVID-19 response.”
San Antonio nursing student, Jasmin McGill, says she is concerned about the virus, yet she is ready to put her nursing skills into action.
When a seasoned nurse asked Jasmine if she was ready to work she stated,” Yes, I’d like to jump in and volunteer. I am not looking for a paycheck. I want to help because they need me.”
California Nursing Students Are Stepping Up Too
Many nursing programs and hospitals in California have canceled on-site clinical training for nurses altogether. As a result, the pandemic may prevent 14,000 nursing students in the state from graduating, which will also keep them from joining the front-line healthcare workers to aid in a public health crisis that is only getting worse.
California’s nursing students, however, are not so easily deterred. In fact, they are actively stepping up to aid on the coronavirus front lines, asking for emergency licenses. They have called on Governor Gavin Newsome to temporarily lift the rules that are preventing nurses from graduating this spring.
Demanding that their voices are heard, Ryane Panasewicz, a nursing student at West Coast University, launched an online petition last Sunday with the goal of reaching 150,000 signatures. As of Wednesday morning, they are already at 100,000.
“Our heart’s desire is to help those in their most vulnerable state,” the website stated. “As senior nursing students, we have been extensively trained for the last 19 months. We are ready to pour our skills, knowledge, and hearts into the medical community.
On Tuesday, Governor Newsome told the Sacramento Bee that he is “looking at loosening the rules governing health care workers to free up doctors and nurses.” No word yet if that will also include loosening the rules for nursing students to help in the fight against COVID-19.
Wisconsin Nursing Students Find Their Own Way to Help Fight COVID-19
In February, the University of Wisconsin also prevented nursing students from working with patients, where they would be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition, they have moved all learning online, taking students out of the clinical setting.
Fortunately for senior nursing students, UW requires more training hours for degrees than the state requires for licenses. As a result, all of the school’s 201 students completing their final year are still on track to graduate.
But nursing students at UW were still determined to help fight COVID-19 now. As many of the University’s health care workers were struggling with childcare due to school closures, a UW senior, Marcela Hanson, and many other nursing students jumped at the chance to help.
Marcela reached out to her nursing school classmates, and as of Tuesday, she had 15 additional nursing students enlisted to help with childcare for the university’s nurses and doctors.
Novice Nurses of America Are Showing Their True Colors, Right Out of the Gates
The nursing profession continues to attract those who strive to help humankind, even in its darkest hours. Nursing students in the US are no exception, as evidenced by their determination to practice nursing, even during the outbreak of a novel virus that we don’t seem to fully understand, nor have control over at this point.
It makes me proud to be a nurse, and of the nursing profession as a whole.