LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Hope is on the horizon for hospitals across the country that for the past few months have been plagued by staffing shortages thanks to the pandemic.

This week, a new generation of nurses will walk into the medical field hoping to fill those empty spots.

“We know the severity of the situation we are walking into,” said UALR nursing student Brittney Harding.

Harding and her classmate Lauren Klempel started classes in the middle of the pandemic.

“That was a different feeling,” said Harding.

The image of their dream job suddenly changed.

“Hearing these nurses say we’re so tired and we’re so understaffed and we’re having all these issues, its hard to hear that,” said Klempel.

Doctors and nurses were handing up badges, bringing down staffing numbers by the triple digits.

“Everyone was petrified,” said Klempel.

Klempel says many rethought their degree plan but that wasn’t the case for her and her classmate Brittney.

“It drives you even more,” said Harding.

They say nursing isn’t just about caring for patients but their fellow coworkers too.

“You have to have that want to help,” said Klempel.

As the two walk into the next chapter, the graduating students say they’re hoping at the very least they can be an extra set of hands and help ease some of the burdens.

“It’s like you’re going into battled every day and you have to be able to trust and lean on the people around you,” said Klempel.

UAMS says the hospital is still experiencing shortages, down about 200 people.

Our station reached out to Baptist Health for staffing numbers and have not heard back.