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Arizona Nurses ‘In Front Lines’ During Pandemic Crisis

More than 85,000 registered and practical nurses are working in Arizona, according to the Arizona State Board of Nursing. (Rawpixel.AdobeStock)
More than 85,000 registered and practical nurses are working in Arizona, according to the Arizona State Board of Nursing. (Rawpixel.AdobeStock)
May 8, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. - A dramatic photo of an Intensive Care Unit nurse confronted by a protester calling the COVID-19 crisis a hoax brought national attention to the dedication Arizona's nurses bring to their jobs.

During National Nurse Week, dozens of groups and individuals have honored the state's 85,000 registered and practical nurses for being in the front lines of health care during these trying times.

Connie Miller is an associate professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing and the chair of the nursing and health education division there. She says rigorous training prepares nurses to deal with most anything.

"They're right at the front lines, taking care of the sickest of the sick patients in the hospital," says Miller, "oftentimes being with patients who don't have family members with them. And it's a really scary time."

Several Arizona nurses and other health-care workers have contracted the coronavirus on the job during the pandemic. Miller says many of them undergo the hardship of living separately from their families to protect them.

Miller says that although times are particularly tough for nurses right now, their training always has put them in the front lines of defense in the country's health-care system. She says education officials are concerned that, due to the new coronavirus threat, students temporarily are not allowed to train alongside registered nurses in hospitals.

"It's just not the same," says Miller. "So, we're very hopeful that our students will be able to get back into the hospitals and work alongside practicing nurses to get those critical skills that they're going to need when they graduate."

Miller says the faculty at UA's College of Nursing is taking a more "holistic" approach to recruiting, so graduates can better relate to their patients.

"To try and increase the diversity of our applicant pool so that we are not just admitting based on their grades," says Miller. "We want our nurses in the community to represent the diversity of the community."

Miller says because of the pandemic, the college had to postpone its annual Nurses Week conference, when they normally have a gala dinner and hand out awards. But, she adds, anytime you see a nurse, you should thank them for what they do.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ