SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - They call themselves the "Covid Cohort." 29 nursing students at Santa Barbara City College may have been challenged more than any other nursing class in recent years. Now, they're about to graduate and play a critical role in a world health crisis.
"These students had 6 weeks left of mandatory clinical hours in order to complete the program when we lost all of our clinical practicum sites due to COVID-19. Faculty had to think quickly to not only convert classes to an online format but to also create and present to the state board of nursing a detailed plan outlining how each clinical objective would be met without direct patient care," said Rosette Strandberg, Director/Professor, Vocational Nursing Program at SBCC. "Our virtual clinical simulation plan was approved and students successfully completed weeks of screen-based simulations which promoted critical thinking, clinical decision-making, and clinical judgment."
Victoria Gutierrez is one of the students graduating from the LVN, Licensed Vocational Nursing, Program. Her mother, Veronica Orozco, said there was a point when the students didn't know if they could even take their state board exams and graduate.
"I am a parent and know how hard the students and faculty have worked in the midst of COVID and would like to see them recognized," said Orozco in an email to NewsChannel.
Everything these graduates have gone through over the last 18 months and what they're about to face on the frontlines of this pandemic, makes their upcoming virtual graduation on May 7, 2020 even more special.
Strandberg said the ceremony is set in tradition every year. They celebrate the nursing heritage by awarding nursing school pins representative of the pins Florence Nightingale gave her very first nursing students in the 1860's. Then they recite the nurses oath together.
"This is a beautiful thing that usually happens at the Garvin theatre, witnessed by families, friends and faculty. Sadly, their 18 months of hard work and dedication cannot be celebrated in this manner this year," said Strandberg. "I truly respect how hard my students have worked and the sacrifices all of them have made."
Like so many other graduations this year, they will hold the ceremony via Zoom. They never did get a chance to take a group photo because of physical distancing.
"I am taking their Zoom class pic which will be a one for the times!" said Strandberg.