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‘I know that they need us’; medical and nursing students help on the frontlines during COVID-19 pandemic

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Many frontline heroes have emerged in 2020. Many individuals have put their own lives at risk for the benefit of others, such as teachers, bus drivers, grocery store workers, doctors, nurses and EMTs. There's another group too that's working behind the scenes to help: nursing and medical students.

Most people choose to run from danger, but for the past few months, Juan Manuel Aragon has run toward it.

"You definitely need to feel the sense of wanting to help others and the sense of almost a sense of self-sacrifice," Aragon said.

Aragon is a fourth year medical student at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. He's one of roughly dozens of nursing and medical students who have stepped up in El Paso's fight against COVID-19.

"It's one more person to take care of your family member, to take care of your sister, your brother, your mother," he said. "We'll always be here and this is what we want to do."

Aragon has helped on hospital floors and volunteered in the emergency department.

For students like Aragon, COVID-19 has brought experiences that go beyond the classroom.

"I don't think anything could have prepared us for this," said Chelsea Holder, who just graduated from the Hunt School of Nursing at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. "We took microbiology. We learn about how the viruses work, and then this happens. It's so astounding seeing it happen in real time."

Holder was not allowed inside the COVID hospital rooms, but assisted nurses and helped patients where she could.

"We got to sit in there a little longer and talk to them just a little more, you know, and hearing their stories. Hearing them talk and seeing their smiles on their faces. We got to do that," Holder said.

Though the fight is far from over, Holder and Aragon are still eager to continue to help.

"I know that they need us, these nurses need us. They need a break," Holder said.

"You will never find a medical student or nursing student who doesn't want to be here," Aragon said. "If they didn't, they wouldn't be here."

The physical and emotional challenges of the pandemic have only reinforced their choice to keep showing up.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

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Madeline Ottilie

Madeline Ottilie is a reporter on Good Morning El Paso and co-anchors ABC-7 at noon.


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