New nurses face challenges for hands-on training during pandemic

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Healthcare workers have been stretched thin during this pandemic but help is on the way in the form of fresh graduates from the University of New Mexico College of Nursing.

“My mom was a nurse so I was just kind of raised in that environment,” said Mikayla Hernandez-Boyd.

Hernandez-Boyd has always known she wanted to be a neonatal ICU nurse and going to nursing school at UNM reaffirmed that this was the job for her.

“I’m continually inspired by people’s capacity to love to love and to endure and be courageous, family members and patients alike,” said Hernandez-Boyd.

But because of the pandemic, nursing students had to move their studies online; a major hurdle for a profession that requires lots of hands-on learning.

“It made us all apprehensive that we weren’t going to be prepared adequately because we are missing out on all of those in-person clinical experiences,” said Hernandez-Boyd. “Our class time isn’t at the same level anymore and we felt like we’re going to look stupid when we graduate. Are we going to be a step behind and how is that going to factor into things?”

To ease some nerves, Hernandez-Boyd said they’ve recently let student nurses back in for in-person clinical training.

“The unit-based educators are having to adapt their new graduate orientation because they have to understand we’re not at that same level as other cohorts,” said Hernandez-Boyd.

Despite these setbacks, Hernandez-Boyd feels prepared to start her career working with newborns at the ICU at UNM Hospital because she said hospitals understand these new grads did not get these full hands-on learning experience these past few months.

“That’s a huge part of being a nurse because you never know what’s going to be thrown at your so I guess it did prepare us in ways also,” said Hernandez-Boyd.

About 130 nurses will be graduating soon from the University’s nursing program.

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