CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The United States is in the midst of a critical nursing shortage. Some industry leaders say that problem could continue through 2030.
University of Charleston student Maria Hernandez said she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field but the pandemic changed her focus.
“If anything it made me really want to get into it and just go as fast as I can to helping people,” Hernandez said. She originally wanted to be a neurosurgeon but during the pandemic she decided that nursing was going to be the right career for her.
She is also an athlete at the University of Charleston.
“The pandemic kept coming and I heard all about the nurses and their suffering and their stress that they undergo and I said I want to be a part of that. Not because of the stress or anything, no one wants to go through that, but the ability to have the knowledge to help those that really need it,” Hernandez explained.
She said caring for people has always been her nature so the nursing career path made sense. The pandemic has inspired many students to go into nursing.
“We have had a lot of students who have contacted us recently with a calling to be a nurse,” said Dr. Amy Bruce, Chair of the Department of Nursing at the University of Charleston. “Sometimes it is not always a traditional student.”
The school has made adjustments not just in terms of classroom size, space and virtual learning but also in the types of things they teach.
“They are out there on clinical and working side by side with these nurses. They will come back and tell us what they are seeing in the hospital,” Bruce said.
Hernandez is set to graduate in May 2024. She said she doesn’t know what the field will look like then but she’s prepared for whatever will come her way.
“We are being taught how to deal with adversity and tough situations and I feel like if it goes back to normal, great, if it doesn’t, great. We are going to be capable of handling it regardless,” Hernandez said.
The University of Charleston has a nursing track that can help students move through their education faster by attending classes on the weekends. It is one of the ways this school is working to meet the demand for nurses across the country.