What It’s Like to Be a Nursing Student

Within the past year, the world has faced numerous obstacles as a result of COVID-19. Ways of life were flipped upside down as a new “normal” began to emerge, and essential workers were, and still are, on the frontline as the battle against COVID-19 rages on. The healthcare industry was heavily impacted as medical professionals worked countless hours as a result of overflowing hospitals and even struggled to receive personal protective equipment (PPE). 

As college students, we have witnessed the future of the job market completely transform before our eyes and for students wishing to go into the healthcare industry specifically, this could not be more true. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for registered nurses between 2019 and 2029 is expected to grow 7%, which is faster than the average. 

Grace Belyea possesses a unique perspective on the future of nursing as a current sophomore and as a nursing student. She has faced many unprecedented challenges to her education as previous hands-on learning, where she would have been working in a hospital, was moved to a virtual format. As a result, she has completed much of her coursework through simulations and zoom demonstrations. At the beginning of the semester, she would have started her clinicals, which are considered the “on-the-field” portion of nursing school. However, because of COVID-19, this opportunity was restricted as the safety of the students and the safety of the hospital staff and patients were of the utmost priority. Recently, after being vaccinated, she has been able to start her clinicals in the hospital; however, not without some changes. Belyea described how the “personability aspect with COVID-19 changed- we don’t shake hands and we have to see patients differently now.” As someone who enjoys talking to and connecting with the patients, this has been a huge obstacle.

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Throughout the year as well, Belyea has also become a part of a Vaccine Corps where she was taught, and now has administered, COVID-19 vaccines. Through this training, she underwent many modules where she practiced administering a vaccine with saline and even learned about how the different vaccines work. This is incredibly impactful as over four million vaccines have been administered in the state of Virginia and 171 million total vaccines have been administered in the United States as a whole. 

In the future, Belyea hopes to become a traveling nurse. By becoming a traveling nurse, she would travel throughout the country, and even throughout the world, and work in hospitals where staff is needed. Throughout this, she would be able to interact with individuals of all backgrounds and would be able to really experience the joy of talking to and connecting with patients.

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When talking to Belyea, she described that through her courses and by talking to current nurses, she has developed an even greater amount of respect for the sacrifices nurses make for their patients. Seeing how dedicated and committed they are to providing quality care to their patients has only heightened Belyea's desire to become a nurse. One of the quotes that really stuck out to me when talking to her was how she remarked that she views nurses as “the backbone of the hospital and the glue that holds everyone together.”