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Nursing Students at SUNY Broome prepare to join workforce amid COVID-19 pandemic

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(WBNG) -- Students in SUNY Broome's Nursing Program are currently preparing to enter the workforce in the midst of a global pandemic. After classes were moved online this spring students say they have faced significant challenges, but they say those challenges have only motivated them to get out and join the workforce.

For student Brandi Beauchamp, finishing her degree in the midst of the coronavirus crisis wasn't easy.

"As a nursing Student I felt guilty almost because we were in this limbo area," she said. "We were in this position to potentially help but we were one step away from actually being able to help and that kind of weighed on me for a bit in the beginning," she says.

That wasn't even the biggest challenge. Alexander Button, President of the Student Nurses Association says moving classes online made it extremely difficult to get real life practice. He says normally students are allowed access to local hospitals to learn up close.

"It was devastating the hands on experience we lost it completely and that's been one of the real hard points for me lately has been missing the hospital and missing patients," he says.

Fellow student Kelly Perry says things were made easier by the work that teachers and administrators put toward making sure the online experience mirrored the regular curriculum as much as possible.

"We did an online clinical simulation so while you're not actually using your hands to do it it runs you through the steps," she says. "I think it's important to think about how much our teachers and administrators worked to get us to this point."

While students were able to learn in person for the majority of their time at SUNY Broome, nursing program chair Susan Seibold-Simpson says the goal was to make sure students got as much experience as possible once classes were moved online.

"They were doing clinical through simulation, case studies, they continued to meet with faculty through zoom and it allowed them to continue to engage in critical thinking but prevented them from providing hands on care," she says.

Simpson says while the plan is for at least some instruction to be held in person this fall, based on positive student feedback the college plans to continue offering some virtual learning opportunities moving forward.

"We were exposed to resources that we hadn't necessarily considered in the past but we'll definitely include moving forward," she says "For several of the activities students were exposed to they said 'we think you should continue to use this.'"

Despite the challenges, the students 12 News spoke with say they are ready to get out there and join nurses working on the front lines.

"I'm actually going to be working at Wilson Hospital in the Neurosuite," says Brandi Beauchamp.

Kelly Perry says she'll be joining Beauchamp in Johnson City this summer.

"I actually accepted a position in the Neonatal intensive care unit at Wilson Hospital," she says.

While Alexander Button says he's heading to work in Binghamton.

"I'll be working at Binghamton General on the Orthopedics floor," he says.

For Beauchamp, while she says she know's she'll have to work extra hard to make up for the in person experience that was lost, she's just excited to finally be able to satisfy that urge to jump in and help.

"I feel very ready, I haven't been in a clinical setting in a hospital in seven months now so I'm excited to get that patient care which is the reason I'm going into this field in general," she says.

SUNY Broome will hold a virtual ceremony for all graduates on July 25th.

Jack Arpey

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