Fast-tracked graduation sends local students straight into the coronavirus fight

MIAMI, Fla. – The coronavirus crisis has crashed graduation season for so many seniors this year. Not so for some universities that are graduating health care students early.

Seventeen Barry University students will be graduating five weeks early so they can head straight to the front lines in helping treat patients during the pandemic.

“They’re ready, they’re willing, they’re able,” said Dr. John McFadden, dean of Barry’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Yenisley Diaz, a perfusionist who operates machinery critical to heart and lung care in the ICU, starts next month at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she did her clinicals.

“A lot of people have told me, ‘What a bad time it is to start your career,’” she said. “But honestly, I don’t think there’s a better time. There’s people that need me.”

McFadden said the school made the decision to speed up graduation based on what it heard from hospitals and health care partners.

“When they started describing the ramp-up and what they were predicting to see, that’s when we knew we were going to have to act,” he said.

McFadden said all 17 students graduating early have met or exceeded requirements. They’ll begin work at South Florida hospitals and at locations as far as Maryland.

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