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Sacramento nursing students might have to repeat 'emotional rollercoaster' semester

Nursing students at American River College are speaking out after learning they'll have to redo their semester, just weeks before the finish line.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Like all campuses throughout the nation, American River College has stopped holding in-person classes in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But at a time when those with medical experience are needed more than ever, first-, second- and third-semester American River College nursing students have been told that they may have to redo this semester.

"Despite significant efforts by our faculty and administrative leaders to find creative solutions to situations beyond our control, our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd semester students will not be able to complete their requisite direct patient care clinical hours this term," American River College said in a statement sent to students April 22. "Consequently, students in these courses will not advance to the next semester by the end of the spring 2020 term and must return in fall 2020 to complete their current semester."

The news came out just weeks before the students completed the semester. Knowing the work that went into the past few months of this semester might now count feels like a waste of time to some.

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"It's a total of 66 hours a week minimum that we're supposed to dedicate to the program," said second semester student, Stephanie Davenport. 

Davenport decided to start a family before pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse. Now, with five children, she said the amount of money that has gone into daycare as well as making the commute and time away from her family is a difficult sacrifice with no advancement career-wise.

It's a similar sentiment to Sabrina August. With three children, she has been working 10 years to get to this point: her third semester of nursing school. Before COVID-19 she was set to graduate in December.

"It's been an emotional rollercoaster," August said. 

Third semester student Neel Maharaj left his career as a vocational nurse in order to pursue and take a step up as a registered nurse. Now, he said he feels like a sitting duck and is considering returning to work.

"To me, personally, it's not OK to be graduating on time," said Maharaj.

He said it's especially frustrating as he has seen other acquaintances and friends at other nursing schools continue on in their schooling, despite the pandemic.

That's why these students are advocating for American River College to find a solution in order for them to graduate on time. Some of their ideas include making up lost time in schoolwork and clinical work over the summer, or adding on more school days during the week.

"I don't think any of us care how — we will do what we need to do [in order to] graduate on time," said Davenport. 

August agreed. 

"They always teach us to advocate for yourself, advocate for your patients. So, we expect the same for us," August said.

ABC10 reached out to American River College, asking for an interview to discuss "creative solutions" they're working on in order to find a way for their nursing students to continue.

While they didn't agree to an interview, the Associate Vice Chancellor Gabe Ross provided us with the following statement:

"The college is continuing to look at every possible viable alternative for our students. I’ll be happy to follow up with you next week if we have updates to share and perhaps do an interview at that time."

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Andie Judson.



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