Students Heading into Healthcare Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic


A sign thanking healthcare workers outside of Lone Peak Hospital. (Courtesy of Lone Peak Hospital)

By Kayleigh Silverstein, Special Projects Managing Editor, News Writer



Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have been busy, nurses and doctors have been overworked and the need for healthcare workers has become more and more apparent. Thus, people across the country are showing their admiration in various ways. Through neighborhood signs or city-wide clapping rituals, healthcare workers are being applauded for their work during this pandemic. 

Along with families and whole neighborhoods, a different group of people are praising healthcare workers: students — those on the cusp of the healthcare field, with a love for medicine and healthcare, but no license to practice.

Nellie Webb, a nursing student entering her senior year at the University of Utah, said the COVID-19  pandemic has put her in a weird spot, entering the world of medicine, but no quite fully in it yet. Clinicals, the hands-on, onsite part of nursing school, have been postponed or even cancelled for nursing students.

“We want to be out there helping. It makes us that much more eager to continue our schooling so if this were to happen again, we could be on the frontlines with them instead of sitting and not being able to help quite yet,” Webb said.

Webb said while she can engage in some volunteer work such as distributing medical supplies, she wishes she could use her practical clinical skills  she has been learning in school to help those around her. 

“I’ve talked to other students doing story-times, like FaceTime calls with kids at children’s hospitals, getting medical supplies to hospitals — there are ways to volunteer, but as a student, there has not been a way for me to use any of my practical skills,” Webb said.

Cody Orton, an incoming senior studying biology and chemistry at the U, said his scheduled MCAT and other plans for applying to med school have all been cancelled.

“Everything’s kind of been thrown out of whack, and it’s hard because I know me and my peers who are pre med have struggled because you plan on getting volunteer hours, finishing prerequisites for the application and all that’s been canceled so it’s been pretty hard,” Orton said. 

While facing the obstacles the pandemic has placed in front of applying to med school, Orton said he is focusing his attention on admiring those in the healthcare field who are making daily sacrifices. 

“I think a lot of us have found a lot of motivation, seeing people that are already in the healthcare field, and how they’ve been able to handle the situation and how important they are. At least for me, it’s added on to my motivation to become a doctor because of how important it is. People need health care, especially with a pandemic,” Orton said.

Webb acknowledged healthcare professionals are always doing admirable work, but it is especially important to recognize them during this crisis. 

“I would describe it as sad but also inspirational and it’s a really honorable thing. I think that about the field itself, this is just a situation in which we’re really acknowledging it more because the stakes are higher,” Webb said. 


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