HENRICO, Va (WRIC) — Recent nursing graduates enter a profession in a different world than when they started studying as hospitals around the country look to ensure enough staff are on-hand to care for patients with COVID-19.

“I’m nervous. I would be lying to say that I wasn’t nervous, but I think anybody would be lying to say that they’re not nervous right now,” said Michele Stacks, a recent graduate of ECPI University’s Medical Careers Institute in Henrico.

At the end of the month, Stacks says she will be working on a surgical floor at Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center.

Although many hospitals recommend people postpone elective surgeries as the caseload for COVID-19 grows, there is still a need to treat other emergencies—Michele’s line of focus.

“The world still turns so folks are going to have complications from those more chronic conditions and they’re going to need to have medical treatment,” Stacks said.

Simulation Coordinator for ECPI’s Nursing Program Andrea Noordyk says intuition, basic skills and formulaic thinking are key during this pandemic.

“For each patient, when they’re facing a crisis, it’s really their disaster,” Noordyk said.

“For instance, if you’re in the ICU the best way to prevent pneumonia on a ventilator patient is to brush their teeth frequently….’ ‘Even just turning and repositioning someone is going to help change the way the fluid is distributed in their body and in their lungs.”

Noordyk says today’s students are still going into hospitals for clinicals as they’re recommended by the CDC.

“We attempt to assign them to rooms for patients who do not have COVID, at this time. But, of course because of the community spread there is really a challenge to be able to know,” Noordyk said. “So, we are wearing masks every time we are in the hospital just because we don’t know for sure, we may even have it and we don’t want to give it to someone else.”