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UMaine nursing students graduating early to help fight COVID-19

38 students from the school of nursing will be honored in a virtual pinning ceremony Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

MAINE, USA — There will soon be new healthcare workers joining the fight against the coronavirus. Nursing students from the University of Maine will be graduating two weeks early, allowing them to take their exams, and begin working on the front lines. 

"Words cannot express my gratitude to this class," said Kelley Strout, interim school of nursing director. "Essentially we asked them to submit assignments three weeks early, and they’ve been working around the clock. They have not complained, they’ve been motivated."

There will be 38 students in the program graduating two weeks early. The students will graduate with a bachelor of science in nursing degrees. When they pass their national licensing exam, they become registered nurses.

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"This is the end goal. This is what we’ve been preparing for through our rigorous curriculum," said graduating student Nicole Brown. "Over 1000 hours of clinical rotations."

Brown will soon begin working in the intensive care unit at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center after passing her board exams. According to the University of Maine, 33 of the 38 graduating nurses will be working at healthcare facilities in Maine. 

Others students like Kately Ford, who is originally from Presque Isle, will be moving to Maryland to work Johns Hopkins Hospital in the ICU. She says, she's prepared for the challenge of joining the medical field full-time during this crisis. "There are things during this time that we can change, and things that we cannot change, so it’s going to be having the courage to change what we can," said Ford.

Students in the nursing program have also had to complete the remainder of their semester remotely. They have had to complete required clinical hours remotely too. The determination and dedication of the students in the program has been inspiring staff members. "They will be the most memorable group of students we’ve ever graduated from our school of nursing, because honestly, it’s a historic moment," said Strout. 

A typical commencement ceremony will not take place for students, however those in the school of nursing will be honored Saturday, April 25, at 7:00 P.M. though a virtual pinning ceremony. You can watch, and support these future nurses on the programs Facebook page.