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UCLA Will Let Eligible Med School Students Graduate Early

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Nursing students can help swell the ranks of those fighting COVID-19. (Jean-Francois Monier/AFP via Getty Images)
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Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said 25,000 health care professionals have offered their services during the COVID-19 crisis. Those nurses and doctors-in-training also want to step up.

Medical schools in the University of California system are trying to make it easy for fourth-years to join the workforce faster, said Dr. Clarence Braddock, vice dean for education at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

"The University of California has taken the position that (students) who had completed their requirements -- and who wish to -- could graduate early if their residency program needed them," Braddock said.

But Braddock said some hospitals may be so overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases that they can't on-board a new resident.

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By comparison, nursing students may be easier to deploy because they can be used in many different kinds of settings.

Ron Norby, interim director of the nursing school at Cal State-Dominguez Hills, said that the 60 students in the family nurse practitioner program are able to, for example, screen patients for underlying conditions that could exacerbate COVID-19 infections.

"All of those (students) potentially could go into hospitals or into physican's offices or clinics," Norby said.

Norby said a few weeks ago, hospitals were canceling trainings for his students. Now those same hospitals are asking him how to bring them back.

Nursing students are on the list of health care professionals the governor is recruiting for his Health Corps initiative. So are medical residents. Medical students, however, are not.

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