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Germanna grad singled out in State of the Commonwealth talks about her love of nursing

From Germanna Community College:

Gov. Glenn Youngkin singled out a Germanna Community College nursing graduate when he spoke during Wednesday’s State of the Commonwealth speech about the critical need to boost the number of nurses and other healthcare professionals trained to fill openings in Virginia.

She is Kaitlyn Niesent, a Stafford County resident who graduated from Germanna last spring.

The governor called nurses “Virginia’s quiet heroes.”

“Everyone should be well aware of the fact that we have a serious shortage of nurses,” Youngkin said. “Virginia hospitals have identified a shortage of more than 4,000 nurses at their facilities and vacancy rates are estimated as high as 40%. across healthcare. We must accelerate the education and licensing of thousands of nurses. The budget I introduced in December includes $35 million for the Earn to Learn accelerator, a program designed to get more nurses from the classroom to the front line faster. Kaitlyn Niesent is a nurse from Stafford County and she’s here with us in the gallery this afternoon Caitlin would you please stand?” She stood to a brief standing ovation.

“Kaitlyn was one of the earliest enrollees in Germanna Community College’s Earn to Learn program… She’s a registered nurse at Mary Washington Hospital’s intensive care unit. Kaitlyn, thank you for being one of Virginia’s quiet heroes. And now friends. Let’s get Caitlin some reinforcements.”

Mary Washington Healthcare and Germanna began a partnership during the pandemic called “Earn While You Learn,” which helped address the nursing shortage then. It allowed nursing students at Germanna to be paid as nursing assistants at Mary Washington Hospital as they worked with trained nurses to get more clinical experience.

“I started the Germanna Nursing Program in the middle of the pandemic in the Fall of 2020,” Niesent said, “which only strengthened my passion to care for others. Since the beginning of my journey, I have cared for all patient populations from pediatric to geriatric, and patients in every unit at my local hospital both as a student and as an employee as a Nursing Assistant. “Because of these experiences, pandemic or not, my passion for caring for others has been solidified.”

She said she became interested in nursing early in her life.

“While living overseas in Okinawa for six years, I served on many mission trips to an orphanage in Quezon City, Manila, Philippines. These children were in desperate need of medical attention and the necessities for basic survival. I was inspired by those I saw serving as nurses and other caregivers. They operated the infirmary responsible for treating common colds, administering vaccines, providing wound care, and quality of life care for the most seriously ill children.  They were patient, compassionate, and committed that every child received the best care humanly possible. Through these experiences, I developed a passion for caring for others.”

Her father is a retired U.S. Marine.

Gullickson noted that Germanna has committed to doubling its number of nursing and related graduates over the next three years in response to this critical shortage.

Within the Germanna service area, Nursing and Allied Health labor shortages match the rest of the nation at 18 to 25 percent, according to Germanna’s Bruce Davis, special assistant to the president for institutional advancement. Additionally, he said, the area nursing shortage is expected to become more severe when the 450,000-square-foot Veterans Administration Clinic opens in late 2023 or early 2024.

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