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Nurse grads face uncertain future amid pandemic

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Graduating nurses want to help with the coronavirus pandemic but are having trouble finding work.

This after Governor Gavin Newsom called for more nurses — retired and students — to work on the frontlines of COVID-19.

We’re told applicants are facing roadblocks in the process like a hiring freeze or required training needed. They just want to be in service during this difficult time.

“When we’re hearing that you know patients are in hospitals more than ever because a pandemic, of course we want to be there to help, to be honest,” Registered nurse Angela Williams said. “I feel guilty for being at home during a pandemic.”

Williams is a registered nurse and is looking for work.

She graduated with a Bachelors Degree in 2018 – president of her nursing class.

Williams was recently working as an RN in cosmetic dermatology but was let go due to shelter in place orders.

After hearing Governor Gavin Newsom’s plea for more nurses on the frontlines of COVID-19, she wanted to take care of people immediately but the application process has been challenging.

“It could be that you don’t have the exact specialty that they’re looking for or mostly you don’t have hospital experience,” Williams said. “Acute care experience but you can’t get acute care experience without being hired.”

After nursing school, Williams had to go a different route in a non acute setting to get experience, which is bring her career to a standstill.

“The industry should be stepping up and hiring more nurses,” Katherine Hughes said.

Hughes is an RN and director of the nurse alliance SEIU.

She says there is a need for nurses, especially in San Francisco where Mayor London Breed expedited hiring.

“Any nurses at this point because they could do something else,” Hughes said. “You don’t necessarily have to work directly in the intensive care unit right away.”

John Muir health initially considered nursing students and planned for a surge, but turns out there is no demand and a low turnover rate.

“We were anticipating that we could have gotten a large number of COVID patients that were coming in to the hospital, and we believe because of a lot of the sheltering in place that we have all done,” Michelle Lopes said. “It was flattened the curve which was our goal but what that has created is just a manageable number of COVID patients that we’re dealing with at hospitals right now.”

Lopes says there could be a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall and the need for help may return.

Her message for nurses like Williams:

“Don’t give up hope,” Lopes said. “You are our future and here at John Muir Health as well as many other organizations are looking for ways to get you in to the workforce so don’t give up.”

John Muir is looking for ways to get all new nurses into the system — a new grad transition program where they can get nurses who have been working in non acute settings like Williams did in cosmetic dermatology and get them working in the hospitals faster.

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