"This is a great class. Eighty-six students graduating and I'm proud of every one of them," said St. Joseph's College of Nursing professor Nancy Poole.
St. Joseph's College of Nursing is one of the latest schools to matriculate nursing students. The graduating class began their studies before the pandemic.
"This is a very resilient class,” said St. Joseph's professor Julie Middleton. “This class has really been through the worst of the worst and they've come out on top. We couldn't be more proud of them.”
They have come face to face with disease in hospitals, and to learn how to care for patients.
"They went above and beyond,” said Poole. “They went through certain clinicals that maybe were a little scary, because they had to take care of patients that were maybe positive with COVID the next day after caring for them.”
"I've worked in a hospital this whole summer, through the pandemic, and I think I haven't been better equipped than right now graduating from this college for sure," said graduate Alexa Petraitis.
The class of 86 students is receiving their associate's degree, at a time when the world needs more nurses.
"So proud of this group,” said Middleton. “They're going to be able to go out, they're going to be able to help our community, in ways that are so necessary right now. There's such a shortage of nurses out there, and these folks are going to fulfill those spots.”
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the U.S. will have a shortage of RNs that will only intensify as baby boomers retire, and need care themselves. They say there's a shortage of nursing school staff, and low staffing in hospitals which increases stress and can lead to more employees leaving the field.
"Definitely we need nurses now, so this is a beneficial thing to the profession of nursing,” said Poole. “We need graduates that want to work in the hospital and take care of our patients.”
According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing is expected to be one of the fastest growing jobs over the next eight years.
"If anyone has to choose a career choose nursing. If you care, choose nursing. Because we care about you, ya know?" said Petraitis.
Out of a class of 86, five graduates were males.