Dean Pam Cipriano of the University of Virginia School of Nursing said she is not sure how many alumni work at the Medical Center. But she knows it’s a lot.

“Oh my goodness, I could not even give you a number because there are so many,” she said. “Every year, we have about a third of our graduating class that goes to work [at] UVa. But as we look at over the years, I mean, we have many, many nurses that have spent decades at UVa.”

She said she believes some also go to work at nearby Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, but is not sure how many. Most, she said, stay in Virginia, but there are Nursing School graduates all over the country.

As alums fight COVID-19 on frontlines near and far, Cipriano’s main job recently has been to support faculty and students as they adjust to online learning. She said the Nursing School has padded its toolkit of online resources through their Compassionate Care Initiative to help students, nurses and anyone else who would like to join in de-stress.

Many clinical sites, where undergraduate and graduate students complete the practicums needed to graduate, have closed due to the coronavirus.

“So graduate nurse practitioner students didn’t have a place to continue their practicum,” Cipriano said. “For undergraduate students for us at UVa, they had already completed the required clinical hours. And so … they could cease their clinical experiences, even if they had continued in the hospital, just due to the complexity of making sure that there was enough protective equipment and the additional training, if you will, in terms of putting the equipment on and off and making sure that people knew the right information to address different patient groups.”

Cipriano said students are not included in staffing for being able to take care of COVID-19 patients. But some, outside of their capacities as students, are working with COVID-19 patients at UVa and elsewhere in such roles as patient care technician and emergency medical technician.

Cipriano said that as part of the broader health system, the Nursing School has made sure that their offerings, including the Compassionate Care Initiative and resources on giving Stress First Aid, are available to frontline workers. She also mentioned as a resource for frontline health workers the Faculty and Employee Assistance Program, which offers (now virtual) counseling to faculty and staff of the University and Health System. And they are planning to send donations to the Medical Center.

“We are in the process of sending some healthy foods and snacks to the people on the front lines,” Cipriano said. “I mean, we know food’s always appreciated.”

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