BURLINGTON, Vt. – Nursing students at the University of Vermont will graduate nearly three weeks early so they can join the workforce and help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
UVM is one of the first colleges in the nation to take this step, and all 95 nursing seniors will graduate on May 1. Each student will get a temporary license and be able to take a formal licensure exam once the coronavirus emergency has passed.
UVM Provost Patricia Prelock was dean of the UVM College of Nursing and Health Sciences from 2009-19. Four years ago, she gave an introductory lecture to the 2020 nursing class urging them to be community-based and family-centered practitioners. On Thursday, she was proud of their dedication.
“They’re realizing the importance and the difference they can make at a time when our community really needs them and our country does,” Prelock said. “I’m really proud of them and I think that suggests they really are difference makers and I’m not suprised knowing the group I brought in four years ago.”
Graduates would typically study well into the summer for a July licensure exam, likely not entering the workforce until August.
Now, students like Kathryn Callistri are gearing up for a much earlier start to their career.
“We all kind of speculated that it was going to happen but didn’t know for sure until it was official,” Callistri said. “It’s just such a wild time to work in the healthcare field and become a nurse and work with these patients.”
According to Georgetown University, an estimated 200,000 nursing positions will go unfilled at hospitals across the nation this year. There’s hope that the estimated 155,000 nurses set to graduate could help fill the gap.
In Vermont, the need for more nurses amidst the coronavirus pandemic was recognized early, but it took quick action.
“It really required everyone to cooperate, and in 48 hours, people felt this was a no-brainer because it was so important to help our community,” Prelock said.
The early graduation is pending approval from UVM’s Faculty Senate, but Prelock said it will be approved on April 20.