UP Nursing Students Step Up to Provide Childcare for Moms and Dads Working on Health Care’s Frontlines

Kimberly Tran in nursing scrubs with logo that reads University of Portland Pilots Give Back Spring 2020In the pantheon of tough jobs, being a health care provider at this moment in time ranks pretty much at the top. While most of us are stuck at home, weathering the pandemic with Zoom meetings in our pjs, they’re out there in the thick of it, working hard to take care of the sick people in their community while doing everything possible not to become sick themselves.

But a lot of these doctors and nurses have another job too—being a parent. And with schools and some daycares closed, they can’t do their jobs if they don’t have childcare. Luckily the Portland area’s nursing and medical students are hard-wired to help. With their clinical rotations canceled, these students have stepped up to provide free babysitting, or even run errands, to help support the people our community needs most.

“As a nursing student, I felt like I should do something to help,” says Kimberly Tran, a junior at UP who is pursuing a double major in nursing and Spanish. “I didn’t want to sit and do nothing while everyone is doing something during this time. I can’t do more of the hospital stuff, but at least I can do this to help health care providers.” 

A few weeks ago, Tran, along with other nursing students at UP, received an email from the faculty in UP’s School of Nursing that alerted them to a grassroots program launched by several medical students at OHSU. Student volunteers get matched with health care providers who need the help. There’s now a hotline for those who want to take part in the program (503-383-9776) and even a fund to help with expenses like gas money for volunteers on a tight budget. 

Sydney de Polo in nursing scrubs with logo that reads University of Portland Pilots Give Back Spring 2020“I signed up to help the day I received the email because I knew I’d be staying Portland,” says Sydney de Polo, a junior at UP who plans to become an ER trauma nurse when she graduates. “Most of the nursing students aren’t here, they’ve gone home, so I knew I’d be needed.”

Both Tran and de Polo have concerns about entering into another family’s orbit during a time when social distancing is key. “It’s a risk,” says Tran. “As a future nurse, I want to provide help, not harm. I’m scared of passing an illness on to my clients. But I try not to let the fear stop me from helping people and instead try to take all the precautions.”

De Polo agrees. “I know that there are always risks involved when you invite new people into your house, and I don’t want to contribute to that risk. But I feel grateful and humbled to be able to help out. I’m happy to provide care to let these nurses do their jobs. That’s the most important thing.”