MSU makes available graduating health care students to aid in Covid-19 response

Apr 8, 2020

As Michigan works swiftly to expand its healthcare workforce to combat the exponentially rising number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the state, Michigan State University is making available hundreds of healthcare students, who successfully completed their program requirements, to Michigan healthcare systems earlier than usual. 


Joining me to talk about this are three of our medical deans at Michigan State University. Andrea Amalfitano of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Aron Sousa from the College of Human Medicine, and Randy Rasch from the College of Nursing.

Andrea Amalfitano
Credit Michigan State University

“We're doing a lot,” says Amalfitano. “As a college we typically graduate about 300 physicians a year. We're pretty proud of the fact that 70 percent of them typically will end up practicing during their residency in the state of Michigan. And that usually translates into them staying to practice as well. And we've been doing this for many years. This year as usual, we have about 213 students that have already matched to a residency program in the state of Michigan. And typically what would happen is they graduate around May 1. And between then and July 1, they would then make plans to enter one of the hospital systems in the state around July 1.

“This year we talked with the licensing body called LARA in the state of Michigan and let them know that our students are available and that they should proceed with haste to process their licensing documents so that if the medical system they're going to go join needs additional help or support, they can potentially join the health system sooner rather than later. And so what we basically have done is validated that these students have met all the criteria, the four plus years of training, and they have seen patients. They're ready to go. Our students can go and begin their careers as physicians in this unique time.”

Aron Sousa
Credit Michigan State University

“Our fourth-year class leadership said to us, ‘We're going to start July 1, but most of us are already done with our training and our curriculum and we're not getting any smarter sitting here doing nothing. Could we start early?’ From there, as Andy talked about, our students are able to be available to residencies and hospitals earlier than they would otherwise,” adds Sousa. “And I think it's important to say that the students have all finished all of their training. We didn't cut short their training or skip anything. They just happened to already be done. And so then certifying them to be ready to enter and join residents and residencies, they were going to join anyway July 1, was really just a matter of having the state come through on the paperwork and greasing the skids to get that work done. And the state was really wonderful. They really very quickly figured out a way to make that happen for our students and for the people of the state.

“I think the university is really showing what a land grant institution is all about and how we’re a part of the scientific safety net for the country. Hopefully some of our work helps save lives in the community and across the country.”

Randy Rasch
Credit Michigan State University

“For the College of Nursing at Michigan State University, we will graduate probably this year close to 300 students, but we do them in waves,” Rasch says. “We have a group of about 90 students graduating in May. We can certify that students have completed their requirements for licensure and the board will issue them a license permit that allows them to work as nurses until they sit for the examination and are officially licensed as registered nurses.

“A crisis is also an opportunity. Whenever there's a crisis or anytime that we come to a crossroads, there's an opportunity that we can do more in terms of education and practice, and more to link practice and education. In getting our students and graduates from all three of our colleges out there to help people, they can begin to learn how to work together and take those habits out into the workforce when they join it.”

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870. Follow and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, You Tube, or wherever you get your podcasts.