While most people seek safety during danger, Ebonique Johnson actually hurries to the frontlines.
“I’m running towards it because that’s where I’m needed the most,” said Johnson, a nursing student at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Set to graduate in December, she’s looking to land a job at an ICU.
“I want to be where I’m needed,” Johnson said. “I want to help the COVID patients.”
That help could come sooner or later depending on where she gets a job.
Some states are waiving certain regulations and allowing nursing students to enter the workforce more easily. Other states, however, have prevented nursing students from working with COVID-19 patients altogether.
“We can’t hit the pause button with what’s going on, nurses are needed now more than ever,” said Dr. Regena Spratling, associate dean for GSU’s school of nursing.
She says coronavirus concerns have limited student access to hospitals for hands-on clinical training and that more courses are now being taught online.
“We’re really focusing on what they would be doing within the health care system as far as taking care of patients,” Spratling said.
Despite changes, GSU is seeing more people looking to join its nursing program.
For GSU nursing student Phillip Parnell, this pandemic is personal.
“One of my older relatives recently passed away with the virus,” he said.
The army veteran is now making his second career his first priority.
“When it hits home, it’s a different level of intensity,” Parnell said.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the health care industry needs more than 200,000 new nurses each year through 2026 just to replace retiring nurses.
“Although we never thought we would see a pandemic in our lifetime, it’s here,” Johnson said.
GSU students are happy to be leading the next generation of nurses while also fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines.
“We answer the call to be there for people,” Johnson said. “It’s our time to show up.”