Registered Nursing students at Bakersfield College are helping the Kern Medical Center, Dignity Health Systems, and Bakersfield Heart Hospital as part of a new externship program amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The college said the hospitals will onboard all 69 Level 4 RN students, senior students in their final semester just prior to graduation. The students will work in a nurse extern capacity alongside an RN and provide direct care to patients.
“I absolutely love seeing how our nursing faculty and students have responded to this call for help from our hospitals,” said BC President Sonya Christian. “This is a time when we should all pause and say a big ‘thank you’ to every nurse, doctor, and every other healthcare provider as they work on the front lines to care for our community.”
The announcement comes at a time when across the nation, many nursing students have had their education put on hold. California requires RN students to complete at least 75 percent of their clinical hours in a “face to face” setting, providing bedside care to patients, the college said.
With this new opportunity, BC’s senior RN students will be able to complete their required clinical hours and lectures concurrently, be eligible to sit for their national exam and enter the workforce serving as an essential part of the healthcare team.
“This action affirms the strong ties and mutual commitment Kern Medical and Bakersfield College have in meeting our community needs,” said Kern Medical Director Russell Judd.
RN students say they are grateful that their education and ability to work will not be put on hold indefinitely only eight weeks before their expected graduation.
“It is a privilege and honor to respond to the urgent need for nurses in Kern County at this critical moment,” said Shantelle Rubio, President of the ADN Class this semester. “We are thankful for the opportunity to complete our program and take the Boards on-time, so we can start working as RN’s as soon as possible.”
BC said the externship program will allow nursing students to start applying their hard-earned knowledge now, so that as soon as exams are held, they can immediately turn around and join the workforce as RNs
“The opportunity for these 69 students to get real life experience dealing with a pandemic on a scale we have never witnessed before in our lifetime will certainly make them better nurses,” said Carla Gard, associate dean of nursing at the college. “This will be a trial by fire, and they will come out the other side with confidence that they can rise to face any challenge, throughout the rest of their careers.”