California nursing students seek help from lawmakers to graduate on time

Nursing students across the state are worried they won’t be able to graduate on time due to the coronavirus outbreak

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 10:11 PM

OROVILLE, Calif. - Nursing students across the state are worried they won’t be able to graduate on time due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The students and faculty at Butte College have been contacting Governor Newsom and lawmakers with their concerns hoping to receive help.

"It is so sad to think that after all this time our dreams of helping others might be delayed," Vondracek said.

Action News Now Skyped with a 4th-semester nursing student at Butte College, Devyn Vondracek.

She alongside her 59 other peers in the nursing program say they’re beginning to panic.

Schools are closed across the nation and students are now learning virtually.

"For most programs, this is not a big deal but for nursing students it is," she said, "We can do our theory online that’s not the problem it's being able to get those direct patient hours."

They’re called clinical hours, according to the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). In order to graduate students must complete 25 percent simulation training and 75 percent direct patient care, which includes hands-on practices.

"Doing IV-meds, oral meds, shots just your basic care, we help people to the bathroom, take their vitals blood pressure heart rate," she says.

But with the Coronavirus outbreak, Vondracek says they’re not allowed in hospitals or at many of their clinical sites.

"Which makes it impossible to comply with the BRN’s rules," Vondracek said.

Action News Now also skyped with the Nursing Program Director, Laurie Meyers, "They’re afraid, they’re scared, they’re in doubt, they want to go out and help."

Meyers says 14,000 nursing students in the state are at risk of not graduating in May.

"Other states have already had an executive order by the governor to allow this exemption of 75 percent direct patient care for clinical hours and are ready to proceed," Meyers said.

The students have completed 890 hours so far – with 128 hours left to finish in the semester.

Meyers says while generally, it would be best for face to face clinical, virtual simulation is very comprehensive.

"They’re very robust they’re great learning opportunities many other states have already approved 50 percent virtual simulation before the crisis so just allowing us to get there in California would be beneficial," Meyers said.

Both Meyers, Vondracek and many others in the program have been working to make their voices heard by lawmakers.

"We have been calling sending emails and reaching out on social media," Vondracek said.

"They’ve reached out to the chancellor's office and the chancellor's office has heard us and they’re working with the governor pretty intently to help this but the governor still needs to hear our voice,"Meyers said.

Action News Now spoke with Senator Nielsen on the phone, he says with the shortage of healthcare workers as it is talk is already in the works with the governor to address the students' concerns.

Nielsen says me he’s confident the request is headed in a positive direction. He also added he can’t put a date on when the governor will speak out, but he says soon.

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