UTPB College of Nursing helps Ector County health professionals fight against COVID-19

local news

"It can really explode within the community, so I think it's important that we all just help wherever we can."

ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – University of Texas of the Permian Basin’s College of Nursing is teaming up with Ector county health professionals in the fight against COVID-19. 

With millions of brave nurses fighting in the frontlines, nursing students Briana Ramos and Lorena Najera say now is as good a time as any to jump in head first.

“I honestly think the job of a nurse right now is pretty critical. They’re putting themselves, their own health, at risk to go and help these patients that are coming back positive.” said Najera. “It can really explode within the community, so I think it’s important that we all just help wherever we can,” added Ramos.

15 fourth semester nursing students at UTPB’s College of Nursing are aiding Ector County health professionals with developing cases of COVID-19. Students are practicing what is called “Contact Tracing” – an investigative process in which students make calls to a network of people who may have been exposed to a positive case of coronavirus. Students then ask difficult, and personal, questions all in an effort to collect data and flatten the curve.

“The amazing part is that the students who are here have less than a month until graduation. It’s literally a month away, so they’re absolutely ready to become nurses. This is just the icing on the cake, I feel like. It’s that final, full, real-life exposure to what public health means and how a nurse can impact that,” said Professor Diana Ruiz.

Ruiz says real-life training does not get any better than this. It gives the students an opportunity to work with professionals already in the field, as well as experts in other public departments within the city. While the program is volunteer-based, students will earn credit towards their clinical hours, which are necessary for graduation and employment.

“I was beyond excited when this opportunity came, but I also knew all 22 of them could’ve said ‘No, thank you.’ They’re so selfless and wanting to learn in this process, that is hard, and wanting to make a difference in our community,” said Ruiz.

Ramos and Najera say the experience has been an eye-opener. With a newfound respect for nurses, who came before them, they want to say “Thank You.”

“I don’t think ‘Thank You’ explains how much we appreciate them putting themselves out there,” explained Najera. “For the safety of others, just to help out there out in the community, I think that’s super cool what they’re doing. I give them all the applause. I just thank you,” added Ramos.

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