Nursing students face special challenges


By Riley Brands, Staff Writer

Although the COVID-19 pandemic infection numbers have been declining and vaccinations are being distributed, there are still many areas of life that are still greatly affected by this global tragedy.

According to National Public Radio at the federal coronavirus data states that 22 percent of all Illinois hospitals are understaffed. Many students have had struggles adjusting to the new online style of learning forced on by COVID. One of the majors that is being impacted very heavily by this is the nursing students who are in their final year or semester of school. Student nurses are missing essential time in the classroom and clinical setting because of the effects of COVID-19 on the schooling systems. On the other hand, a large percentage of last year’s nursing students have found some type of hospital job, if not a nursing job lined up for after graduation.

The same student nurses who are being starved of valuable time in school are being forced to step up in the work setting whether they are in clinical — or work — scrubs. With so many hospitals being understaffed those who are currently working receive extremely elevated salaries; Kaiser Health News says that some nurses have been making $8,000-$10,000 a week during the pandemic.

Local UIC nursing student, Justin Padayhag, was asked about the differences in his final year of nursing school. “With the disconnect from the classroom I was afraid I was going to feel unprepared when attending clinical and more importantly my job,” Padayhag said. “Depending on the unit that I’m working on I have been making over $20 an hour, I feel just fine.”

Padayhag explained the positive effects of the  elevated workloads. “Other than being stressed I actually feel like I am making progress on connecting what we have learned over the last 4 years to the hospital setting,” he said.

“I know a lot of people who make the Covid nurse jokes at the 2021 nursing class, but I think the 2022-2023 classes will have the hardest time translating over,” Padayhag said. “We have spent the last three and a half years learning how to be nurses and struggling on a few assignments in the last semester won’t change that. This semester is the outlier and it just forces us to mold that information gained from the classroom into practical uses in the medical field.”

According to the New York Times as of the last week of February, the state of Illinois has had 1.17 million cases along with 22,200 deaths. Until recently healthcare workers were risking their lives at the front lines in the Covid-19 pandemic. Now with the waves of vaccines flooding in hopefully the healthcare workers and student nurses may feel at comfort for the first time since a year ago.