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COVID-19 punctuates National Nursing Week for new grads

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A Lethbridge nursing graduate explains how COVID-19 is highlighting the importance of National Nursing Week for her graduating class. Emily Olsen reports – May 14, 2020

Lethbridge College and University of Lethbridge graduate Jesse Schmidt knows first hand how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting nurses, especially those just entering the workforce.

She says, like many of her classmates, her practicum was cut short. 

“I was about two thirds of the way done my final practicum,” Schmidt said. “And they just cancelled it because it wasn’t safe to be in the hospitals anymore.”

READ MORE: Dozens of retired Alberta physicians, nurses signing up to help fight COVID-19

Even still, Schmidt is feeling exceptionally proud, especially with this week marking National Nursing Week. 

“They say that nursing is the most respected profession,” Schmidt said. “I can see that as a student. You get so much love and appreciation from the people that you work with.”

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Global News follows frontline nurses at Humber River Hospital – May 12, 2020

One of the people working to educate new nurses like Schmidt is Karla Wolsky.

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“I really love teaching. I get excited in the classroom.”

As a multidisciplinary nurse of more than 15 years and an instructor at Lethbridge College, Wolsky sees what many nurses go on to do.

“Being those leaders, and being part of policy makers, or maybe part of the research, looking for an immunization for COVID,” Wolsky said.

READ MORE: N.B. nurse, 85, comes out of retirement to help care for seniors amid pandemic

She also sees the way the pandemic is punctuating the 2020 nursing week celebrations.

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“It’s a really significant year for our National Nursing Week,” she said. “It is the bicentennial for our leader, Florence Nightingale. And the WHO also declared this the year of the nurse and the midwife. So we have it sort of coming from all aspects.”

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The Canadian Nurses Association is recommending a number of ways to celebrate safely, including through social media posts with photos and hashtags like #nurses2020 or #yearofthenurse. 

They also suggest simply writing thank you notes to the nurses in your life.

READ MORE: Lawn signs thank Alberta medical workers during COVID-19 pandemic

While Schmidt and her fellow graduates search for their first job, she says she can’t help but recognize the significance of being a nurse at a point in time where they truly make a difference. 

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“It’s something I can tell my grandkids about one day because it’s just something so special that we’re going to be a part of for the rest of our lives.”

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