Recent studies show the demand for nurses is increasing now more than ever as front-line workers continue their fight against COVID-19.
Nursing students at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria had to quickly adapt when the pandemic hit. From coming onto campus every day to doing remote learning, it was a difficult adjustment but they say it was worth it.
"I was a little bit nervous, I'm not going to lie. I was hearing all the stories, you see everyone on the news. I was very scared but I knew that I had to provide, this is what I signed up for, I wanted to help and be a part of it,” RN graduate Jessica Sanchez said.
A desire to help others and push on even during difficult times was a feeling many of the students in the Hancock Nursing Program shared.
"Our students have been real troopers through the whole year and they need to be continuously applauded and celebrated for all the work that they have done,” Program Director Larry Manalo Jr. said.
According to Manalo, although most classes were virtual, students were still able to get hands-on experience in the lab rooms but in smaller groups.
That's something current graduates like Christina Curry say was a big help.
"I feel really prepared. I feel like we all worked extremely hard this year and I think it goes to our character and the adaptability that we had. So I feel prepared, I feel like the instruction was great and I think that we are really going to make great nurses,” Curry said.
Jessica Sanchez, who now works at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, said losing family members to COVID-19 and working hands-on has cemented her desire to work as a nurse.
"Seeing that and losing my family members, I just feel like it solidified my belief in wanting to do this,” Sanchez said.
For incoming RN student Shy Ann Morrow, this year was one of the hardest years for her after going through thyroid cancer and losing her dad just days before finals.
"I had two finals two days after that and still was able to do it and just finish it for him, so I just want to let people know that no matter what happens, you have to keep going,” Morrow said.
According to Allan Hancock College, 32 students graduated as registered nurses this year and 32 graduated as vocational nurses. There is currently a waiting list for the program.