Nursing Students During COVID-19: What Are They Up Against?
As nursing students work to complete their training and education, and as some look to enter the workforce, many of them are faced with very different conditions than they expected.
COVID-19 has rocked the world we live in and changed much of what we take for granted, including within the nursing world and specifically with nursing students. Across the country, newly graduated nurses and nursing students are feeling the effects of the global pandemic in more ways than one. Here’s a look at what they’re up against.
A Change In Education
Much of the traditional hands-on approach nurses look forward to as they near the end of their schooling has been canceled or drastically changed. For instance, instead of experiencing clinical rotations or internships in-person, many nursing students are completing this portion virtually online.
Recently, USA Today reported on how nursing students at Indian River State College in Florida are experiencing their in-personal clinicals while not actually present “in-person”,
“The night before, students receive the following day’s assignment. They are expected to begin around 6 a.m., when they look up their patient, work with a faculty member to create a plan of care, and spend the day caring for the patient. At the end of the day, students and faculty members debrief, reviewing a student’s decisions, safety precautions, and the plan of care for the patient.”
In California, nearly 14,000 nursing students were presented with the challenge of potentially not graduating in time; this was due to their inability to complete standard nursing rotations required for graduation. Luckily in April, Governor Gavin Newsom lifted many of the restrictions barring students from graduating.
In an unprecedented move, some nurses have been given the go-ahead to obtain their nursing licenses early through both temporary crisis issuances and due to the relaxing of some regulations.
There are also instances of some newer nursing students in certain areas being allowed to assist where needed. HealthAffairs.Org report,
“Nursing students at earlier stages of their education also can provide important service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have already received hospital security clearances and have the skills needed to screen patients and serve as health care navigators to guide patients with mild illness to COVID-19 testing and resources for self-care. They also can support care within hospitals; for example, under emergency orders, Idaho is permitting nursing students who have completed a basic nursing course to work as unlicensed assistive personnel under the state’s nurse apprenticeship program. Both near-graduation and early-stage nursing students should receive academic credit for clinical hours commensurate with their roles during the pandemic so that they can continue to advance toward the goal of obtaining permanent RN licensure after the emergency ends.”
A Different Career Landscape
The field of nursing has mostly been considered virtually untouchable in the aspect of job security. Essentially, nursing and medical services are always going to be needed; therefore, the job market for nursing has always been in-demand. Recently, however, many newly graduated nurses have run into difficulty finding employment – a fact that has come as a surprise given the current COVID-19 pandemic.
So, what’s causing this new employment blockade for many new nurses? Much of it comes down to financial numbers – hospitals are losing a bulk of their profits due to the current cancellations of elective and non-emergent surgeries, procedures, and other visits. This is resulting in nursing staff being overworked and hour reductions taking place because hospitals simply can’t afford it.
For nurses looking for employment alternatives to hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other health care facilities are good places to check. Also, although many hospitals aren’t hiring, for the time being, there are many volunteer opportunities available for those who still want to help with the COVID-19 efforts.
New Fears and Frustrations
Sense of Purpose
“Worried? Scared? Regretting their career choice?
Not even close, said Gabby Hess, a senior nursing student at Minnesota State University. She and her fellow seniors have been watching news reports from hospitals in New York and other hard-hit areas, and what they’re mainly feeling is a desperation to pitch in, the Mankato Free Press reported.
‘With the almost four years of nursing school we’ve had, we just feel like we could really help right now,’ Hess said. ‘We would love to be able to go in right now and be helping.”
Go get em’, nursing students! 💙
● U.S. News, Nursing Students Eager to Finish Degree, Fight Coronavirus
● The Guardian, I’m very nervous’: student nurses on the frontline against COVID-19
● HealthAffairs.Org, There Are Not Nearly Enough Nurses To Handle The Surge Of Coronavirus Patients: Here’s How To Close the Gap Quickly
● USA Today, ‘We can’t shut the pipeline down’: Nurses’ schools use virtual patients amid coronavirus
● Fox KTVU, New California nurses jobless during coronavirus pandemic
● Los Angeles Times, California loosens nursing student rules in response to coronavirus crisis
● New York Times, Coronavirus May Keep California’s Nursing Students From Graduating