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More students interested in the medical field, amid national shortage of workers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - There’s a medical staff shortage around the country, but more students here locally at IUSB and other places are stepping up for the chance to be on the frontlines of this pandemic.

“We do have students definitely asking about programs, in fact, some of them are saying, ‘I know this situation is going on and I really want to sign up to help.’ Their interest is being peaked by this pandemic situation that we’re in. So, we are seeing improved interest definitely,” Susan Elrod, the Chancellor at IU South Bend said.

She said they currently have over 1,000 students enrolled in the health sciences programs and over 200 of those are nursing students. But those numbers may rise in the future as more students are expressing interest in the medical field because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Right now, those in the nursing school are still doing clinicals, meaning they are still training in hospitals and learning as much as they can to be future health care workers.

However now, that looks a little different.

“Their situation has changed, I mean they’re having to wear personal protective gear that they may not normally have to wear, they’re having to take additional precautions. I’m sure their experience is different but highly relevant to the service that they are providing in our community,” Elrod said.

IUSB’s students studying health care are not only getting that real-world experience through clinicals at hospitals but contributing in other ways in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic before they even get their degrees.

“We have students doing their capstones, service-learning projects out in the community, we have students working at the American Red Cross, students working at the county health departments,” Elrod said. “We have a student who is working at the south bend medical foundation. She’s involved in research there. Developing new molecular tests for various kinds of diagnoses.”

Elrod tells ABC57 their over 1,000 students enrolled in various health science programs are out in area hospitals learning and helping health care officials with coronavirus patients as well as out researching in laboratories.

Even the nursing faculty and other health sciences faculty are out in the community helping as well.

“It’s exciting to see our students out there and really excited about their continued work in the community. Many are not shying away. They want to be in there. They want to be serving,” she said.

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