Nursing Students Call for Emergency Licenses

"Hospitals have essentially just kicked out all nursing students," she said. "They don’t want to risk exposing us. It makes sense. But at the same time, I need to finish those hours so I can graduate on time."

Some educators say nursing students near the end of their programs should be offered emergency licenses so they can begin staffing hospitals immediately.

"We’ve got up to 14,000 nursing students due to graduate this spring, and that’s a lot of nurses that we really need right now," said Joanne Spetz, a professor at UCSF's Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies.

She says California has enough licensed nurses available to meet healthcare demands during normal circumstances, but the pandemic means hospitals are bracing for a surge of patients. One indicator of the need: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday plans to add 10,000 more hospital beds across the state — an expansion that will require more nurses.

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