Nearly 100 Bradley nursing students receive their white coats

96 sophomores received their white coats Friday, which means they can now practice clinical...
96 sophomores received their white coats Friday, which means they can now practice clinical work at local hospitals.(25 News / Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 9:13 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 NEWS) - Dozens of nursing students are one step closer to joining a lucrative field - one where their skills have never been more in demand.

96 sophomores walked the stage of Bradley’s Michel Student Center ballroom Friday, celebrating a milestone: the coveted “White Coat” which marks the leap to clinical work at local hospitals.

“Sophomore year is the hardest year - everybody says it. To make it halfway through and have this ceremony, it’s a big deal,” nursing student Katie Straka said.

“I’m really excited. It’s nice to have my family here and it’s nice to have everybody in one space. We haven’t seen each other all at once,” nursing student Bronwyn Jetton added.

Federal stats show more than a million nurses are needed nationwide, and that number is growing.

Many nurses are switching to different hospital roles and a lot of them are leaving the profession entirely - COVID-19 only making the issue worse.

“Many of these patients stay upwards of 30 days in the hospital,” said Lisa Pittman, vice president and chief nursing officer at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center. “Nurses get connected to them. It is hard to see the suffering and to deal with that, and so that has contributed to our turnover.”

Each student that received their white coats now has their own assignment at hospitals throughout central Illinois. Most times, a job is waiting upon graduation.

“The hospitals are actually enjoying having us more, because we are so willing to be a helping hand and do things while they are short-staffed,” assistant professor of nursing Rachel Bridgewater said.

These students are halfway there, and the next two years will include surgical nursing and even some work in the maternity ward - a challenge, the students say, they are ready for.

“I think this will be a great opportunity. There are a lot of good nurses that are going to be going through this program. We are really going to try and beat this (shortage) and bring enough nurses to the floor each and every day,” nursing student Brooke Blumenshine said.

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