Ohio University

OHIO's School of Nursing to allow seniors to graduate early, join workforce in fight against COVID-19

OHIO's School of Nursing to allow seniors to graduate early, join workforce in fight against COVID-19
2019 Nursing graduates gather prior to their Pinning Ceremony

As COVID-19 continues to tighten its grip on the nation, many hospitals and healthcare workers on the front lines are either experiencing, or preparing for, a surge in patients.

Help is on the way, as 153 School of Nursing (opens in a new window) students within the College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP) (opens in a new window), including 13 from the Chillicothe Campus, joined the professional ranks across Ohio and beyond over the weekend.

The State of Ohio recently updated regulations, allowing nursing students nearing graduation to earn a temporary license and begin serving in a professional capacity more quickly.

“Ohio University’s nursing graduates are well positioned to help alleviate the current healthcare workload,” said Dr. Deborah Henderson, director of OHIO’s School of Nursing. “Most importantly, our students are prepared and ready to contribute thanks to the quality education provided by our knowledgeable faculty.”

OHIO’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) (opens in a new window) degrees were conferred on April 18 to seniors who met the necessary course requirements.

“This group of students has worked very hard over the last several years, and they will continue to show their dedication to nursing as they move into professional nursing positions,” said Danielle Schabel, interim associate director of Nursing at OHIO Chillicothe and assistant professor of instruction for the School of Nursing. “The School of Nursing faculty are very proud of their accomplishments and look forward to seeing how they serve our community during this health crisis.”

Henderson noted that the majority of the School of Nursing’s early graduates will continue working and contributing within the State of Ohio. 

Dr. Camille Leadingham, associate professor of Nursing at OHIO Chillicothe, instructed Chillicothe’s BSN students this semester in their final capstone course; she noted that the school’s focus on real-life simulations has more than prepared its graduates to succeed in their professional field. 

“Our curriculum has covered specific infectious diseases and disasters; the instruction has been based on real-life experiences from disasters and reviewed utilizing our campus simulation labs,” said Leadingham. “Our ability to provide high fidelity simulation and collaborations with community clinical agencies has served our students well for this type of moment.”

Last month, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 197, which included permission for the Board of Nursing to grant temporary nursing licenses to qualified applicants in the fields of registered nursing or licensed practical nursing.

The temporary licenses are valid either until 90 days after Dec. 1, 2020 or 90 days past the duration of the imposed state of emergency. The bill delays the NCLEX exam requirement for nurses but requires that all other training and educational conditions are met. 

Dr. Amy Acton, director of health for the Ohio Department of Health, has stressed the need for increased nursing support during the state’s daily news conferences and called for early graduation of nursing and medical students wherever possible within the state.

Henderson noted that every medical professional plays a vital role in maintaining the overall health and wellbeing of those in need of care – especially during a pandemic.

“The State’s proactive decision-making has allowed Ohio University and its students to positively impact the healthcare workforce a few weeks earlier than originally anticipated, and we’re ready,” Henderson said. “This is why our world-class nursing faculty prepare students the way we do – because every person, every day can make a difference.”

“Our students are eager and ready to enter the workforce,” said Leadingham. “This is what they have been preparing for. In addition, the majority of them live local and have been engaged in providing community care throughout the program. For the most part, I think they are excited and nervous at the same time.”