In response to the request from Governor John Bel Edwards to support the health care surge in light of COVID-19, FranU faculty and leadership committed to keeping students on track to completion and graduate seniors a month early to help support the health care needs of the state and nation.
School of Nursing Dean, Dr. Amy Hall said that Schools of Nursing were asked by the Governor's Office, LAICU and LSBN to consider graduating the senior nursing students early to help strengthen the nursing workforce and increase the numbers of nurses who can care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Like the respiratory therapy program, we have adjusted the curriculum to allow our seniors to graduate early. We are happy that we can help provide nurses to care for patients during this unprecedented time," stated Hall
Hall continued, "The students will have their degrees conferred on April 27 along with the RT students. This has taken a lot of collaboration across all the departments at the University. 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."
Chief Nursing Officer of Our Lady of the Lake Nicole Telhiard said, "We are grateful for the commitment and partnership of the University. FranU has been such a critical sourcing partner for talent as we continue to grow and expand our ministry. As we work to meet the challenges of this current pandemic, we are blessed to have our University respond in such a profound way by ensuring we can continue our work, by having nursing graduates transition into professional practice to take care of our patients. It is because of solid talent partnerships like these we are prepared to serve."
President and CEO of LAICU Kenya Messer conveyed that postsecondary institutions reported healthcare-related programs are currently facing barriers such as hospitals closing student clinical opportunities, standardized board testing requirements, and opportunity for verification of temporary licenses.
“In response to the barriers in which healthcare-related programs are facing, public and private postsecondary institutions are allowing online simulation learning for students to complete necessary clinical requirements (made possible by executive order for the Governor), and ensuring graduation of on-track students in healthcare-related programs to graduate in April or May,” stated Messer.
To determine licensure response to the COVID-19 crisis, the following measures have been implemented: All recently graduated health care students can apply to their respective licensure boards in order to receive a temporary working permit; Standardized tests such as NCLEX for nursing have been suspended to allow students the opportunity to apply for temporary licenses upon graduation; and testing time requirement extensions will be granted for the duration of the emergency and until testing resumes. In addition, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals fully understands the challenges and stands at the ready to reduce barriers for eligible health care graduates to support the health care COVID-19 effort.
Madelyn Stuntz ’20 said, “I think graduating early is going to help in our development as new nurses but also help our city and state during this pandemic. We need as many hands on deck as possible. Of course, this is not quite how we expected our very last semester to go but I know that whatever we walk into, we are well prepared to face it head-on (Thank you FranU!). I am both scared and excited to enter the field of nursing in such an uncertain time, but then again that's kind of the beauty of nursing. By graduating early and having the ability to help out on the frontlines sooner, we will gain invaluable experience as new nurses. We may not get the fancy graduation or pinning ceremony, but we will get the amazing opportunity to help our community when they need us most, and for me, knowing that is reason enough. I'm so proud of my class, my professors and my school for how gracefully they've handled things and how strong they've remained during these difficult times.”
Aimee Cangelosi ’20 stated, “I am thrilled to be completing my degree early and cannot wait to put my education into practice. Starting our nursing careers during a global pandemic is an experience we will never forget. We have so much to learn and I am excited for the opportunity to get out there a little earlier than I had originally planned.”