Unvaccinated nursing students face hurdles to getting degrees

Some nursing students who choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 are struggling to complete their clinical training and degrees, Kaiser Health News reported Oct. 4. 

Some nursing schools say it's been more difficult to place unvaccinated students in healthcare facilities that will accept them. For example, just 150 of the 329 students in an associate degree nursing program at Indian River State College are vaccinated. The Fort Pierce, Fla.-based school has contracts with eight medical facilities for clinical placements, only some of which require students to be vaccinated. Roseann Maresca, MSN, RN, an assistant professor at the school, said it's "been a nightmare trying to move students around this semester" to connect them with facilities based on vaccination status.  

Last month, the Biden administration said a new federal rule will come out in October that requires healthcare workers to be vaccinated. Some health experts said they believe nursing students at clinical training sites will need to be vaccinated, too. 

A CMS spokesperson declined Kaiser Health News' request to clarify who the new rule would apply to, since it's still in development. 

In a policy brief published Oct. 4, nine major nursing groups said "students should be vaccinated when clinical facilities require it." 

Students who refuse vaccination and don't qualify for an exemption may be disenrolled from their programs or may be unable to graduate since they cannot fulfill clinical requirements, the policy brief said.


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