Nursing Students Are Put on Pause by Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on the certification progress of future nurses


Mt. SAC’s nursing program has been impacted by COVID-19. Photo Courtesy: Mt. SAC Marketing Department.

Nursing students eager to complete their certification are now at the mercy of the coronavirus.

There are many students who are pursuing careers because they want to make a difference, but those who are in the medical field have had their career path come to a halt because of the deadly coronavirus that has spread globally, COVID-19. This is the reality for nursing student Ryza Corcino, 21, and many others.

Since COVID-19 began to spread throughout the U.S. and became a worldwide pandemic, once eager and hopeful nursing students who are ready to complete their training are no longer able to do so.

Nursing programs throughout California have requirements that must be completed in medical centers by their current and potential students. Since the Governor of California, Gavin Newson, issued the stay at home order on March 19, nursing students fall under the category of being non-essential and are considered a liability for potential exposure to the virus.

The virus complicates things for nursing students like Corcino, who was on track to be accepted into a nursing program. When asked about how the programs have handled the situation in terms of informing their potential students, Corcino said she hasn’t heard much. “The schools that I’ve applied to are just sending me emails and kind of trying to play it off as ‘Oh, yeah, everything will be running smoothly by fall’,” she said.

Corcino is concerned that she will never be able to get the training she needs for her profession. “Hopefully they’ll be doing something to help us get hands-on experience that we need as nurses. I’m just guessing it will take a bit longer,” she said. “There are just things that are out of our control right now and hopefully, they can do whatever they can to help us.”

Students like Corcino who have been left in the dark about how their programs plan to continue has them on the edge, as they are eager to finish their certification and help in any way they can.

“You kind of wish you had your degree already and could be helping in any way. I could be out there, but I know that I probably won’t be yet,” Corcino said.

The severity of the virus became apparent when retired nurses began to show up on the front lines. “I think that says a lot. I want to be one of those people that is helping to at least provide some relief,” she said.

The virus has brought the riskiness of the medical field to the forefront for Corcino, but that hasn’t stopped her from wanting to pursue her career.

“For me personally, I want to be a nurse. It’s not just something where, ‘Oh, I’m just in it for the money’,” Corcino said. “This is what I want to do. This is what I’m signing up for and I know that this is what I’ll be asked to do.”

Corcino is hopeful for the time when this pandemic has passed, but it is apparent that it won’t be easy or any time soon as there are still those who aren’t taking the pandemic seriously.

“I think it really depends on the people because a lot of people aren’t practicing social distancing,” Corcino said. “They think that just because they’re young they can fight it. They could probably fight it off, like, sure that’s great. But realistically, it’s not you that’s being affected, it’s other people around you.”

Corcino’s point stems from the fact that presymptomatic and mildly symptomatic carriers are contributing to the spread of the virus.

According to the CDC, “A significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (‘pre-symptomatic’) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.”

To combat this, the CDC now recommends wearing face masks in addition to the practice of social distancing. Many counties, such as Los Angeles and San Bernardino, have made this suggestion mandatory to stop the unknown spread of the virus and flatten the curve of cases.

Corcino is doing her best to continue her career path.

“I’m kind of just going with the flow. A lot of this is just out of our control, we can’t do much about it,” she said. “We’re just kind of at the mercy of when this pandemic dies down.” Corcino is hopeful that people will do their part in preventing the spread of the virus to help those on the front lines and so that life can resume as usual.