Future doctors, nurses to confront pandemic that awaits them after graduation

UT Health San Antonio expects about 500 students to graduate

SAN ANTONIO – Mitch Parma and Talice Nieto are among the approximately 500 medical and nursing students graduating from UT Health San Antonio who will soon join the ranks of first responders on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think that we all have a drive to bear witness to this pandemic, to kind of see it for what it is and to help out the best way we can,” Parma said.

The fourth-year medical student said he’ll find out where he will be doing his residency in March before he graduates in May, then he starts working in July.

Nieto, who graduates from nursing school in two weeks, hopes to work at the Audie Murphy VA Hospital and focus on preventative care, given that she’s lost loved ones to preventable diseases.

“Personally, wherever you need me, I will be. And if it ends up being a COVID unit, then that’s where life takes me,” Nieto said.

Neither of them said they’ve helped treat COVID patients yet, but they said they’re well aware that doctors and nurses are exhausted and overworked while trying to care for the sick and dying patients who need them.

Physician burnout is a very real,” Parma said. “It was real before the pandemic. We want to be at the forefront. We want to be helping these people.”

Nieto said nurses may not feel like heroes right now, but she said they’re like firefighters when it comes to the pandemic.

“It didn’t scare them away,” Nieto said. “They’re actually running toward it.”

Parma said he wants physicians to know that the younger generation of doctors is watching, whether they know it or not.

“We’re learning from you,” Parma said. “We hope to, in a couple of years, be like you.”

A spokeswoman said even now, UT Health San Antonio continues to turn away more students who are applying than it can accept.

Related: Americans face new COVID-19 restrictions after Thanksgiving

About the Authors

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.

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