Coronavirus: OC nursing students petition for change in education requirements to alleviate strained healthcare system

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put a nationwide strain on doctors and nurses, finding qualified people to help is posing a challenge - and a group of Orange County nursing students want to step in and help.

West Coast University nursing student Ryane Panasewicz is just 11 weeks away from graduating. But due to the threat of the virus, hospitals are not allowing students on-site to get the required clinical hours needed to complete their class requirements.

"Thinking before this happened, i was like, smooth sailing, I'm ready to go, you know. My heart was crushed, being you know, so close," she told Eyewitness News through FaceTime.

Panasewicz says the healthcare system could use their assistance more than ever - especially in the coming months.

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After talking with a classmate, they decided to co-author a petition to lift the current limitations on nursing students and posted it to the school's Facebook page.

Though they were skeptical about how it would be received from the nursing and school community, it gained traction fast.

Currently, California requires 75% of clinical education be done directly with a patient, while the other 25% can be done simulated.
Their petition is calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to temporarily shift the education model to 50/50.

"Other states do it. They do 50/50 and so I think for us, this would be a great thing to implement, so we can continue our education," she said.

Robyn Nelson, Dean of the nursing program at West Coast University, also sent a letter to Newsom on behalf of nursing programs across the state, urging flexibility during this crisis.

"We're hoping that the governor will respond to this. Maybe the BRN will respond and get us out there, because the nurses that are currently working, they need some relief," Panasewicz said.

Eyewitness News reached out to the governor's office for a response but have not heard back.

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