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Nursing students examine assignment in UT’s Health Innovation Technology and Simulation Laboratory (HITS Lab).

Students in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Nursing are partnering with UT Medical Center to help meet the needs of COVID-19 patients.

“We are happy to support our hospital partners as they navigate the ongoing needs for health care personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing.

The recent surge in COVID-19 infections tied to the delta variant in Knoxville has resulted in a shortage of both nurses and other frontline staff who are struggling to keep up with the volume of patients and severity of illness. The goal of the partnership is to provide support to these nurses and other frontline health care workers.

“Nurses and other direct care providers are not only the front line but also the last line of defense in the battle against COVID-19,” said Sandy Leake, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at UT Medical Center. “The surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations is placing extraordinary unprecedented stress on hospitals across our region. This is a great example of our strong partnership and our collective commitment to the health and well-being of the community we serve.”

At UT Medical Center, undergraduate students will serve as health care technicians. Graduate students, who are all licensed and trained registered nurses, will serve in ICUs and provide bedside care to COVID-19 patients.

“Our undergraduate and graduate students are meeting the call of our partners at UT Medical Center to help prevent burnout and ease the burden of health care workers who have been working long and hard hours to provide the highest quality care to patients,” said Sadie Hutson, executive associate dean of academic affairs for the college. “We are so proud of the student volunteers who are doing the very thing they have been called to do when they complete their degree programs as nurses and advanced practice nurses.”


Kara Clark (865-974-9498,

Brian Canever (865-974-0937,