Maryland Recruits Medical Students, Nursing Students to Help Overwhelmed Hospitals

Casey Leins
·3 min read

Maryland is calling on medical students, nursing students and medical technician students at its universities and colleges to step up and lend their help to hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan announced that he had directed the Maryland Department of Health to immediately create a program allowing students in those medical fields to sign up to assist in the fight against the virus.

The program allows students to help their community through the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps, a volunteer program that existed before the pandemic and has nearly 8,000 members, according to the governor's office. When he addressed the state Wednesday, Hogan said 2,300 new volunteers had signed up since March 20. The governor's call for students' help is among several efforts to help the state's overwhelmed hospital systems.

"The number of COVID-19 cases is going to rise, but we're taking every precaution we can to save lives and prevent our healthcare systems from being overloaded," Hogan, also chairman of the National Governors Association, tweeted Friday afternoon. As chairman, Hogan is working with the nation's governors to express what states urgently need from the federal government.

The governor's office reported 774 confirmed cases of the virus in Maryland as of March 27. But because of Hogan's request for a Major Disaster Declaration in the state, Maryland will receive additional funding from the federal government for its state and local governments during the crisis.

[READ: Coronavirus: How Social Distancing Can Flatten the Curve]

In addition to students in medical fields, Hogan has also called on former medical professionals to lend their time to hospitals. He said at his March 25 press conference that he also issued an order last week to fast-track the licensing process for out-of-staters and those with expired licenses.

In Baltimore, Hogan also ordered the establishment of a field hospital and alternate care site at the Baltimore Convention Center, which will be managed by the University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins Medicine. His plan also includes adding 6,000 hospital beds around the state.

[MORE: New York Is Establishing More Temporary Hospitals to Handle Surge of Coronavirus Patients]

Similar to Hogan's efforts, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to enlist retired medical professionals to join the fight in the state known for being the epicenter of the virus in the U.S. According to Kaiser Health News, Westchester County Executive George Latimer received responses from 90 retired nurses and a handful of doctors when he posted on the county's Facebook page asking for volunteers.

The state could also quickly gain more doctors after New York University's Grossman School of Medicine announced Wednesday that it plans to let students graduate early in order to join the hospitals.

CNN reported that 69 of the school's 122 students expected to graduate this year had volunteered to graduate early as of Wednesday afternoon. The plan is now awaiting approval from education officials.

"It is awe-inspiring and just says a lot about our students and their dedication to take care of people who are sick and to be part of a team of doctors taking care of these patients," said Steven Abramson, an executive vice dean at the medical school.

Casey Leins is a staff writer for the Best States section of U.S. News & World Report, where she writes about innovative solutions to problems plaguing the states. She came to U.S. News as an intern in 2014, joined the News team as a web producer in 2015, and was part of the team that launched the first Best States ranking in 2017. She was selected to attend the McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute workshop held by the Poynter Institute in 2017, and previously worked as a writer for the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business and the Howard County Times. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at cleins@usnews.com.