American River College nursing students look forward to working on COVID-19 front lines

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his initiative to increase California’s medical force to match the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases.

He’s calling on those with the proper background to help work on the front lines.

“If you’re a nursing school student or medical school student, we need you. If you’ve just retired in the last few years, we need you. If you are looking to expand your scope of practice and have particular expertise in any particular capacity, we need you,” the governor said on Monday.

Using the state will be able to tap into the estimated 37,000 health care workers who are either retired, part-time or in training to help battle the novel coronavirus.

For nursing students from American River College, it means they will soon be doing the job and not just learning about it.

“Really hoping that the governor would announce something like he did today,“ said American River College nursing student Jodi McIntyre. “This is what we’ve been preparing ourselves for forever. This is part of why I became a nurse.”

“Tears came to my eyes,” said nursing student Alyssa O’Gorman. “The hope that I had was kind of reinstalled.”

Last Friday, nursing students from American River College, who were just six weeks from graduation, got word from the school administration that their classes would be canceled.

“I was devastated and kind of in disbelief,” McIntyre told FOX40. “All the hours, all the days that we’ve already done this semester already.”

“This would mean for us to completely restart our program in the fall,” O’Gorman explained.

But with the green light from the governor, they said they are more than ready for what lies ahead.

“It’s exciting. Now we can be the ones to really help some of these patients,“ McIntyre said.

“This is what we thrive off of. This is what we signed up for. This is what we want to do,” O’Gorman said. “We didn’t waste our last six years, or however many years of our lives, to get to this point and just give up.”

In response to the state’s need for more medical workers, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley issued the following statement:

California’s community colleges will answer the call to help increase the number of health care professionals to prepare for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases. Many of our students in nursing, respiratory therapy and other allied health programs in the 115 community colleges throughout the state want to serve in this moment of tremendous need. The new, temporary flexibility with regard to state licensing and certification and professional scopes of work announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom today will make this easier to get qualified health students into the workforce. Already, community colleges are providing 214 ventilators as well as thousands of protective masks, face covers, gloves and gowns to support California’s COVID-19 response.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of California Community Colleges

After interviewing the students from American River College, FOX40 learned their classes were reinstated. Exactly how the college will do that is yet to be determined.

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