BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Local nursing students are entering the field a little early to help in the battle against COVID-19.
Bakersfield College said it has expanded its support to the community with third-semester nursing students working as COVID-19 screeners. These 16 additional BC nursing students started at Bakersfield Heart Hospital last week to meet the growing need for healthcare workers during the pandemic.
These nursing students will be checking patients and family members for the symptoms of COVID-19. The screening process helps prevent the spread of the virus by catching cases early.
“I’m proud of our Nursing program at Bakersfield College and the readiness of our students to answer the call from Governor Newsom,” said Dr. Sonya Christian, President of Bakersfield College. “By completing their education and clinical hours during this pandemic, our nursing students will be able to gain invaluable skills they can bring forward with them throughout the rest of their careers.”
BC has a two-year nursing program, with distinct requirements for clinical hours. Third-semester students must complete 135 clinic hours, 75% of which must be spent in direct patient care. Working as screeners will help the students meet their requirements while serving a vital role during this crisis.
“We’re pleased to have the support of these nursing students to conduct novel coronavirus screenings for our patients,” said Carol Ann Stiltner, Chief Nurse Executive at Bakersfield Heart Hospital. “The additional help with screenings will free up our staff and allow us to provide highquality patient care to our community.”
Fourth-semester nursing students have also stepped up and are assisting at Kern Medical, Dignity Healthcare Systems, and Bakersfield Heart Hospitals.
Associate Dean of Nursing at Bakersfield College Carla Gard said that in anticipation of the increased need for healthcare support during the pandemic, she started coordinating an externship program for fourth-semester students with local healthcare partners back in early March.
Now 69 nursing students are currently working in paid positions and have been paired with experienced nurses, completing their program and preparing to enter the workforce.
“Caring and serving is a fundamental belief within the Bakersfield College nursing program. Regardless of the students’ level within the program, they all have a role and ability to provide a service to our community,” said Carla Gard. “I know our community will be stronger and healthier thanks to the contribution of the BC nurses.”
The BC nursing classified staff and their families have also pitched in to help by distributing over 170 masks to students and faculty working in clinical settings.