Nursing students receive PPE from school, say masks are ill-fitting

Morgan-Taylor Thomas

School of Nursing clinical students received a package of personal protective equipment at the beginning of the semester, said Leigh Goldstein, a clinical assistant professor of nursing. Some nursing students said they still felt the need to buy their own masks and are concerned about their safety. 

Students received ten surgical masks, one N95 mask, a face shield and a pair of protective goggles at the beginning of the semester. Goldstein said all equipment is approved by both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

Nursing senior Ryan Floyd said that during clinical rotations, students work at assigned hospitals helping take care of patients. Students practice administering medication, giving baths and more, Floyd said. 

He said it’s important masks fit correctly to keep infectious particles out.

“Some hospitals require us to have our N95, so you would think just making sure everyone had one that fits (makes sense),” Floyd said. “I had a friend who bought (an N95), and I feel like she could’ve saved her money.”

One nursing student, who asked to remain anonymous due to concerns about losing their job, said their N95 mask did not meet this standard. 

“I had a huge gap between my face and the mask,” they said. “It wouldn’t even make sense for me to wear it.”

They said they also didn’t receive enough surgical masks for clinical days and had to buy more masks. Not only was this a financial burden, but they said they also aren’t sure if the masks they bought are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

“Both my parents lost their jobs (because of COVID-19),” they said. “This semester has been a little bit more of a financial burden in the sense that I’m buying my own masks … and paying for my own expenses.”


Nursing senior Nhi Le said she felt it was necessary for the School of Nursing to provide its clinical students with masks since clinicals are part of the degree plan. She said although she feels like administration made it clear what PPE expectations were, she felt it was a waste of money and not useful because her N95 mask didn’t fit properly.

“A lot of my other classmates agree as well,” Le said. “It was often a topic of concern whenever we had emergency department rotations.”

Goldstein said students are not working with COVID-19 patients, so most students haven’t had to use their N95 masks. However, each hospital has different PPE regulations.

Goldstein also said students should ask their instructors for more PPE. 

“(Students) need to ask the faculty, and then the faculty would secure more PPE for them,” Goldstein said. 

Goldstein said the school provides universal fit N95 masks, which are meant to conform to most faces, instead of multiple mask sizes. She said the school has started a fit test to ensure the masks fit appropriately for student safety. 

However, Goldstein said N95 masks that come in a variety of sizes are not possible for the school to get.

“We can't even get them because they’re being manufactured for frontline workers,” Goldstein said. “If you don’t have them already, they’re almost impossible to get if you’re not a hospital or someplace doing frontline work with COVID-19 patients.”

Goldstein said if students feel uncomfortable, she encourages them to come forward. 

“Safety of our students is (our) highest priority,” Goldstein said.