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Nursing grads enter the workforce during a pandemic



MONROE, La. – Hard work is about to payoff for 107 students of University of Louisiana Monroe’s school of nursing. They will graduate in May and enter the health care industry during a historic period.

The director of the Kitty DeGree School of Nursing, Dr. Wendy Bailes, says they are ready to help in the battle against COVID-19.

“It’s a little harder for them than it was for me 30 years ago, but they’ll make it because they are a resilient group. Yeah, I’m proud of our grads, the ones that are about to graduate and the ones that have graduated, They’ve entered into a landmine,” said Dr. Bailes.

During clinical hours, faculty and students take care of a minimum of two patients, giving I-Vs, administering medicine, and doing assessments.

Bailes said students have already gotten a touch of what working during the pandemic feels like.

“They’re experiencing it just because even if the pandemic and the COVID is sectioned off to this is the COVID floor, you’re still dealing with the ripple effects of the stressors that’s across the hospital because of that pandemic,” said Dr. Bailes.

ULM professor Shelly Barton said one challenges new nurses may face is working with a patient who’s family members cannot visit.

“I feel like the nurses have also had to become family members at times with patients. And it takes a little more of your time, but it’s also a very rewarding part of what we do. So I think that that’s probably one of the more difficult things,” said Barton.

This spring, 41 new students joined the undergraduate nursing program.