FranU nursing students graduating early to help combat COVID-19
BATON ROUGE – Classes are ending early for just under 40 senior nursing students at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University. The private university is pushing graduation up to allow students to join the workforce sooner and help combat COVID-19.
“It is scary, but it’s also exciting,” senior Madelyn Stuntz said. “There's always going to be a concern whether we're in the middle of a pandemic or not. We're still new nurses. There's going to be a learning curve, but I do believe FranU has prepared us.”
In order to reach the new April 27 graduation date, Stuntz says her last semester is being fast-tracked.
“We’re able to move some due dates for assignments forward a little bit, and for classes we're just having to combine some of the lectures together."
In total, 37 students at FranU will be graduating early. The governor's office asked nursing schools to consider a new graduation date to strengthen the workforce and add to the number of nurses working at area hospitals.
Stuntz says she wants to be an ICU nurse, so the likelihood of her treating coronavirus patients is high whenever she gets a job.
“More than likely I would see those type of patients, but I feel ready for it,” she said. “I feel prepared.”
It’s one step the state is making to try to help the health care surge.
“Even though we don't get the fancy graduation ceremony, and we won't have the pinning ceremony, we are going to get to help our community when they need us most. And for me that's all we need, that's enough,” Stuntz said.
"This has taken a lot of collaboration across all the departments at the University,
School of Nursing Dean Dr. Amy Hall said in a statement. "I'm impressed by the collaboration and support we have gotten as we are charting these unknown waters. It's also a great way for FranU to support our area hospitals by increasing the nursing workforce a few weeks early. When we spoke with the senior nursing students, they seemed very excited to be able to graduate early. They did not voice any concerns and I have no concerns with them graduating early either."
In order to work right after graduating, the students will receive a temporary working permit. Standardized tests such as NCLEX for nursing have been suspended for the duration of the emergency.
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