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Hilo Medical Center residency program graduates 16 nurses amid shortage

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 4:43 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:33 AM HST
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HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Sixteen nurses, most of them from the Big Island, have graduated from Hilo Medical Center’s year-long residency program in nursing.

Members of this year’s class started their residency in October last year after spending the spring 2020 semester of school in online classes due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Hawaii has a shortage of nurses, so the importance of graduating nurses on the Big Island has increased, especially as the state grapples with COVID-19.

“We’re always excited to get home-grown nurses, because we know they will be dedicated to the community,” nursing educator Jamie Brinkman said. “And hopefully they will become 30-year nurses here and will end up taking care of us.”

Chambry’e Lagapa of Honokaa worked in the service industry for years until she realized she wanted to serve the community in a different way.

“I chose to become a nurse because I wanted to do something I felt would make a bigger impact, and I’m so thankful I did,” Lagapa said. “My journey was rough, and I didn’t know if the job was for me, but I’m so glad I stuck it out.”

The Nurse Residency Program’s incoming class has of 23 residents.

Brandon Meyers is nervous to start, but excited to serve the hospital in which he was born. He will be a resident nurse in the emergency room.

“When the pandemic hit, I initially questioned whether I wanted to continue in health care,” Meyers said. “With help from my classmates and teachers, though, I was motivated to want to keep helping people.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.