Ryane Panasewicz was ready to graduate from her nursing program. She was ready to work.
"We've been training for 19 months," she said. "We love this."
But then the coronavirus pandemic started, and everything came to a halt.
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"Once this hit," Panasewicz said, "Everything just stopped."
Stay-at-home orders put a halt to about 14,000 California nursing students’ studies and training. Now, Panasewicz and the rest of her class of nursing students risk not graduating on time, being unable to work the required number of hours at a hospital. Although convention halls, hotels and ships have been set up to house patients, the budding nurses may not be able to help treat the infected.
"It's like someone telling you, ‘No, you can’t do it. Your dream needs to be put on hold,'" Panasewicz said.
The coronavirus has greatly elevated the need for healthcare workers, even bringing doctors and nurses out of retirement. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti even announced that 27,000 medical professionals have signed up so far to volunteer to fight the coronavirus.
Panasewicz is hoping to join the front lines. She even started a petition asking the California Board of Registered Nurses to provide students a pathway to finish their graduation requirements. The petition was approaching its 150,000-signature goal within two weeks, with nursing students commenting
"There is no truer love for community than someone going into nursing," Panasewicz said.
She may get her chance. Gov. Gavin Newsom, to whom the petition was also addressed, has also said that conversations are underway about helping third- and fourth-year medical students receive licensing so they can get into the workforce.