SAC nursing student ready to help in fight against COVID-19

Governor Greg Abbott takes action ahead of potential nurse shortage during pandemic

A San Antonio College nursing student if fired up to serve where she is needed during the coronavirus pandemic.
A San Antonio College nursing student if fired up to serve where she is needed during the coronavirus pandemic.

San Antonio – A San Antonio College nursing student is ready to serve whenever she is needed during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he would waive regulations to combat a potential shortage in nurses during the pandemic.

“This will allow temporary permit extensions to practice for graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses who have yet to take the nursing licensing exam,” Abbott said during a press conference Sunday.

Although Jasmine McGill said she is concerned about the severity of COVID-19, she wants to help patients.

“This has put me and my family on eggshells a little bit because there is a lot of unknowns about the virus,” McGill said. “A veteran nurse asked me today if I would be willing to jump in and I told him ‘Yes, I’d like to jump in and volunteer. I am not looking for a paycheck. I want to help because they need me.’”

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Nursing school students have already been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now ,we have switched to E-Learning online and thanks to Governor Abbott, we are able to complete our clinicals at home,” McGill said. “The hospitals had to kick us out as students because we are another large body that can be a possible exposure to the patients. They are looking out for liability and just trying to decrease the transmission and spread of the virus.”

If nursing students are called in to help, their duties would be partially limited due to regulations. Still, they would provide a major help to the health care industry.

“We have already had a hands-on clinical experience in most nursing programs at this point. They are given the opportunity to jump right in,” McGill said. “We would be doing things like toileting, ambulating our patients, we can measure input and output. We can do a lot of these critical tasks that help take a lot of time away from the healthcare workers that are experienced and seasoned and the veterans on the floor.”

McGill said she would be honored to work along those in the fight against the virus.

“These healthcare professionals who are without materials and lacking personal protection gear are sacrificing themselves everyday,” McGill said. “We see on the news how troops sacrifice their lives. These nurses are doing that right now.”

She said she is also looking forward to working along retired nurses, who Abbott said could reactivate their licenses if they wanted to return to work.

“That is like asking Rocky Balboa to come back into the game," McGill said. "They are veterans and they are seasoned and they are the most knowledgeable and a lot of these nurses have been around during other smaller pandemics. It would be interesting to be able to gauge their thoughts and experience having them on the floor.”

McGill is partially inspired by her dad, a Navy nurse with 30 years of experience. She has also overcome her own battles with cancer twice, she said.

“When I was going through my personal experience, I knew I wanted to do this,” McGill said. “The good nurses just pushed me and having that experience I knew what kind of nurse I wanted to be. I am compassionate about this and it shows with my work at SAC.”

She said when she thinks of what is happening now, it reminds her of the heroes the generation who grew up in World War II.

“When that happened, they called everyone to action and said do what you can,” McGill said. “They didn’t have the traditional learning like we do today but they jumped in, learned what they could, did what they had to do and saved lives. I am the kind of nurse that will hold your mother’s hand, comb her hair and things like that just so she will know that she is loved and is not alone. That is the kind of nurse I am.”

McGill said she doesn’t know if or when she or her fellow student nurses will be called for help, but when that time comes, she will be ready.

“It is important that, not just nurses, but everybody bands together right now and just stay safe and continue to serve and don’t panic and just go home and love your family from a distance,” McGill said. “Love your patients from a distance and just continue to do what you do best.”

She said students will still have to take their licensing exam when they become available.

She said so far, San Antonio College has not announced a change in date for their graduation, which is set for May 9, and their pinning ceremony set for May 14.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.


About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.