Education Matters: Switch to online learning gets more staff into hospitals

Education

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – There was a nursing shortage before the pandemic, and now with the country battling COVID-19, the lack of hospital staff in some places is severe.

The nursing program offered through the Fresno Adult School is recognized for being a great pathway for those wanting to be a registered nurse. Students start with getting their certified nursing certificate and then move into the vocational nursing program. That’s the path 22- year old Evelyn Tapia choose.

“It’s something I always dreamed about. I love the community connection you get to make with not only patients but with families,” said Evelyn.

Tapia entered the LVN program in August 2019. Her cohort, made up of 20 students, was halfway through the 53-week course when the pandemic brought it to a standstill.

“I think the uncertainty was hardest for us,” said LVN graduate Sydney Joachin. “We were kind of stuck in this limbo we didn’t know what we could do.”

After a few weeks, the Board of Licensed Vocational Nursing gave its approval for the school to move the program on-line.

For Sydney Joachin, that meant juggling her own course work with her four children. They were home learning on-line too.

“Many of us have sacrificed a lot of time. It’s knowing that all of our work we’ve done up to this point has amounted to something.”

The students credit their instructors and staff at the adult school for making it possible for them to continue their education. This past October, they were allowed to go back into clinical settings at local hospitals, a necessary requirement to complete the LVN program.

“I wanted them to finish, and nursing is a hands-on career,” said instructor Luz Newell. “It’s not like mathematics, it’s not like education: it’s hands-on.”

Although COVID-19 restrictions caused their original graduation date to be delayed by almost four months, these future nurses were able to complete the LVN program and graduate in a virtual ceremony.

Many of these students plan to continue their education and become registered nurses, but right now they are filling a critical need at a critical time.

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