by Rick Boone

CALIFORNIA (CBS13) — As California fights the coronavirus, there’s another danger that’s fast approaching towards the state: a nursing and medical staffing shortage that could cripple the healthcare system just when we need it most.

Medical students near graduation day are pushing Governor Newsom to change the rules so they can get to the frontlines right now.

As many as 14,000 graduating nurses are waiting on the sidelines, pleading with the governor for their early certification now, versus next month.

“I’m so ready, I’ve been preparing for 19 months, I don’t want to do anything else with my life,” nursing student Ryane Panasewicz said.

Panasewicz, who’s just a few weeks from graduating as a nurse, is on a mission to change California’s medical requirements and save lives in this pandemic.

READ: Hospital Taking Donations Amid Nationwide Supply Shortage

She and a fellow student lobbied that change to lawmakers with an online petition, and so far she’s gotten 90,000 signatures.

“Because we want to graduate and get out there. So this is our way to kinda push back,” she said.

Right now, for a nurse to graduate in the state, they must have hours of on the ground hospital training, known as clinical rotations. But with the coronavirus surging, those rotations have been suspended while career medical professionals focus on the influx of COVID-19 patients.

Some hospital employees agree with the students. Some nurses were protesting Monday to highlight the fact that they’re running thin on everything from equipment to people.

“We’re afraid that too many people are going to start getting sick and there won’t be anyone to take care of the patients anymore,” registered nurse Diane McClure said.

ALSO: Battling The Coronavirus: Community Members Sewing Masks For Local Nurses

Across the country, several states have waived clinical rotations for graduating nursing students, while others are considering the decision. On Monday, Governor Newsom said he’s now warming up to the idea.

“We believe the ability to get fourth-year medical students into the system… getting someone that’s almost finished getting their nursing degree, get them licensed earlier,” Newsom said.

If he rescinds the requirement, some 14,000 new medical professionals could flow into hospitals immediately. It’s a change students say could have a healing impact on us all.

“I’m very optimistic he’s going to make some changes this week,” Panasewicz said.

There’s also a push to call up retired and reserve doctors and nurses to help battle the virus. 

Comments (3)
  1. Marti Schmidt says:

    As retired RN with 40 years of experience, I find this proposal irresponsible. Clinical experience for nursing students is already insufficient. Hospitals generally will not hire new grads due to the time and cost required to bring them to the point where they can function in the clinical setting. Will there also be an exemption so these students will not have to take the State Board Exams? I realize these students want to help in this medical crisis, but this is not the way.

  2. Dee M. says:

    The nursing students in their fourth semester already have hundreds of hours of clinical experience. They are asking for lenience on requirements for the last part of their last semester. Half of the semester is already over. Spring semester typically ends in May. Nursing students in their final class are already trained to be a nurse. They may not have the skill or knowledge of a seasoned nurse, but they are a much better option than nothing. That is what we are facing now. This is an EMERGENCY situation. If Marti has a better way to handle the crisis, please post.

    1. Marti Schmidt says:

      It is a fact that new grads struggle to function in the clinical setting at their first job. They require weeks of orientation and direct supervision before being considered a capable member of the team. In the current crisis affecting our healthcare system, it is illogical to pull nurses away from direct patient care in order to orient these new grads. Without meeting mandated requirements for graduation, they will not be able to take the State Board Exams, and without passing those, they can’t legally practice as an RN.

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