Michigan State University wants to get medical and nursing students who are ready to graduate into the field early to contribute to the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students graduating from MSU’s Grand Rapids-based College of Human Medicine and the College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing typically start their medical residencies July 1.
MSU is working to get 61 doctors and 213 osteopathic physicians credentialed and licensed to start their medical residency by the end of April. Less than two weeks ago, the students were matched with a hospital or health system for a medical residency.
The move comes as hospitals are quickly ramping up capacity to handle an expected surge in COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks, as MiBiz reported Tuesday. MSU also is working to expedite licensing for 87 nursing school graduates.
“Those hospitals are going to get overloaded. As we look at things like creating field hospitals, having doctors and nurses that can help provide that care is going to be essential,” said Norm Beauchamp, MSU’s executive vice president for health sciences.
“All of the efforts that we can make to increase the workforce will make a significant difference. There’s a large need for additional providers,” Beauchamp said. “There are students who have completed all of the requirements and this is an opportunity for them to help respond to the crisis.”
Medical school graduates have completed eight years of schooling and thousands of hours of clinical training before getting matched for a medical residency, Beauchamp said.
When the pandemic reached Michigan, MSU’s medical students were pulled from clinical training at hospitals. Some fourth-year medical students are now volunteering to staff hotlines for patients to call and get information on COVID-19, and are helping to screen patients and employees as they enter hospitals, Beauchamp said.
Now, MSU is working to have those medical students graduate a month early so they are available sooner. The medical schools are working to confirm that students have met requirements to graduate and are certified, and then with the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on expedited licensing, Beauchamp said.
“They’ve completed their requirements for graduation. There’s no reason they need to wait,” he said.
The effort by MSU to get nursing school graduates into the field early falls under an executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that allows early provisional licensing.
To become licensed, nursing students need to pass an exam. Under the governor’s executive order, nursing students can start practicing as registered nurses ahead of their licensure “under appropriate supervision while they await the results of their examination,” according to MSU.
“Nurses are on the front lines of this pandemic, so it makes sense that the governor would create this opportunity for new nursing graduates to enter the workforce during this time of desperate need,” said Randolph Rasch, dean of the College of Nursing. “We need all the help we can get to provide the necessary and increasing amount of care for Michigan residents, and this is a bold first step by the governor.”
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has been “terrific and responsive” in working with MSU, Beauchamp said.
As of Tuesday, Michigan had 7,615 COVID-19 cases, a one-day increase of 1,117 cases from Monday. There were another 75 deaths for a total of 259 deaths as of Tuesday in Michigan from the pandemic.