Nursing Students Prepare to Enter Workforce

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Hundreds of North Texas nursing students will soon be answering the governor’s call for help in the battle against COVID-19.

Their path into healthcare is a bit different during the pandemic.

Hands-on training that would normally be done inside area hospitals isn’t possible right now, so colleges are turning to technology.

Lessons have moved from the College of Nursing at the University of Texas at Arlington and away from area hospitals to online simulations.

“I guess I feel needed,” said UTA nursing student Sarah Sperberg.

The 25-year-old Fort Worth native’s dream of becoming a nurse is closer to becoming a reality after Governor Greg Abbott announced changes allowing students in their final year of nursing school to replace hands-on clinical training under to virtual bedside training.

“I’m a little disappointed because I was excited about capstone, but I feel like I’m not completely being thrown into the deep end,” said Sperberg.

UTA says 365 nursing students will enter the workforce next month.

“We’ve been able to place students with simulated patients, faculty at the bedside and students are guiding faculty using this telehealth or teleconferencing technology,” said UTA nursing professor Megan Rogers.

The nursing program at Tarrant County College is the largest associate degree program in the state.

Dean of the nursing program Dr. Tetsuya Umebayashi says up to 110 nursing students will be graduating in May without the required hands-on training.

“I am confident to tell you that our students are fully prepared,” said Umebayashi.

The dean, who is also a nurse, says this experience will only create stronger frontline workers.

“This experience will help them to understand how important to adapt to the new environment,” he said.

It is fitting, Rogers said, that the World Health Organization declared 2020 the year of the nurse.

“There’s a wide range of emotions but I see in our nursing students’ eyes hope and courage,” she said.

“I think we’re all ready and we are very anxious to get out there and start helping,” said Sperberg.

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