WT Nursing Students Learning from Coronavirus Crisis, Ready to Get to Work

Bivins Pointe Trains and Encourages New Nurses

CANYON, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) — West Texas A&M University student nurses can join the battle against COVID-19 sooner thanks to the waiving of a state regulation.

On March 21, Texas Governor Greg Abbott waived several regulations to help meet the state’s growing need for more nurses. One regulation will make it easier for impending graduates to enter the workforce by allowing temporary permit extensions.

“When they graduate and we send off their affidavit of graduation, the state issues a graduate nurse permit which allows them to practice. This permit is being extended and allows them to practice temporarily until they take their licensing exams, or boards,” said Dr. Helen Reyes, WT Nursing Department head.

The move is in response to the growing need for medical professionals to respond to the pandemic.

“With these actions, Texas is taking an important step to meet that need,” Gov. Abbott said in a news release. “Nurses are essential to our ability to test for this virus, provide care for COVID-19 patients, and to continue providing other essential health care services. Suspending these regulations will allow us to bring additional skilled nurses into the workforce to assist with our efforts and enhance our COVID-19 response.”

As COVID-19 spreads across the United States, so does the opportunity to learn from the pandemic — for future nurses and the public at large.

Pandemics are already part of the curriculum for WT nursing students, but watching one unfold in real time is a valuable learning experience, Reyes said.

“You don’t want this kind of experience, but they do learn so much,” Reyes said. “You can look at how your community is responding, how other communities are responding, how we’re responding as a whole in the U.S., and even how we are responding globally.

“Hopefully, this will prepare them for the future in how they can educate the public and how they can treat their own patients,” she said.

Reyes said she’s using the pandemic as a vital lesson for her students (now online, rather than in classrooms) and for others around her.

“These are scary times, but you know how to take care of yourself and to take care of those around you, so don’t succumb to the fear,” Reyes said. “If you’ve done that, then you’ve done what you can do.”


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