USask College of Nursing students Teri Rothenburger (left) and Renelle Humphreys are working at the Saskatchewan Health Authority COVID-19 testing location in Saskatoon. (Photo: Submitted)

USask unites: Nursing students step up to support community in time of need

Since the first cases of COVID-19 were announced in the province, members of the USask community have come together to support one another in these uncertain times.

By James Shewaga

Extraordinary circumstances have brought out extraordinary responses from members of our USask community. From frontline health-care workers to researchers looking for a solution to this global health threat, there are so many stories about people are working to make our home communities safer and healthy. Here are a few of the inspiring stories of our students, staff, faculty and alumni.

They may not have graduated yet, but College of Nursing students like Teri Rothenburger and Renelle Humphreys are already doing their part to help in the health-care system during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rothenburger and Humphreys are both filling administrative roles at the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s (SHA) main COVID-19 testing facility in Saskatoon, helping to arrange assessments and test times for patients. While they are not able to fill nursing duties until they become fully licensed nurses, they are thankful to have the chance to contribute in any way during this difficult time.

“It feels amazing to have the privilege of being an employee here so that I can actually help,” said Rothenburger, who is completing her fourth and final year of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and graduating this spring. “We have been testing about on average 200-plus people a day, so it is quite substantial.”

“I have never worked in such a positive, supportive, and collaborative environment,” she added. “We have people working together with different backgrounds and areas of expertise, and we all come together to work and adapt in this ever-changing environment.”

Rothenburger is the past-president of the Saskatchewan Nursing Student Association of Saskatoon, while Humphreys is the new president, with both often work together at the testing facility in their administrative roles as casual employees with the SHA.

“It is very rewarding,” said Humphreys, who is also busy preparing for her final online exams/projects to complete her third year of nursing studies at USask. “Even though I can’t be helping in a nursing capacity, I am really happy that I am able to help out in some way. I know a lot of my fellow students are out of jobs and may be having some financial difficulties right now, so I am very thankful that I have a job and I get to be able to work on the front lines.”

The two nursing students said the long list of precautions and safety protocols is impressive at the testing facility.

“I feel very safe there,” said Humphreys. “It’s nice to have hand sanitizer on every corner, and have masks and gloves everywhere. Everything is well cleaned.”

“Obviously, there are risks everywhere, but we kind of joke that this is probably the safest place in the province because we have so many strict rules here,” Rothenburger added. “We take a lot of precautions and there are great protocols established here.”

Humphreys and Rothenburger are not the only USask nursing students contributing in the community and helping support their fellow classmates during this time of social distancing, inspiring stories that Rothenburger is documenting for the nursing student newsletter.

From left: Rothenburger and Humphreys, and USask nursing student Chantelle Macaskill, who is lifting spirits by baking and delivering personalized cookies in her spare time. (Photo: Submitted)

“There are students doing random-acts-of-kindness and we have students who have dropped food or other things off at people’s houses, and we have classmates who have sparked their inner artist with photography and painting and other crafts and share what they are doing with their fellow students,” said Rothenburger, a student mentorship co-ordinator in the college.

“There is a student who has a side business as a baker, so she has been doing a lot of that because she has free time to deliver. And some of our other students have signed up to join the College of Medicine students to deliver food and things like that to front-line workers. So those are the kinds of stories that I am collecting, and they have been great to hear.”

The efforts of students from the college helping out in the community comes as no surprise to Dr. Lois Berry (PhD), the interim dean of USask’s College of Nursing.

“We are extremely proud of the efforts of our many College of Nursing graduates who are providing front-line health care and our current students who are working and volunteering throughout the community in a number of ways during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Berry. “Their compassion, commitment and courage is a testament to the dedication of health-care workers in the city, around the province, and across the country at this challenging time.”

Share your stories with us: We are collecting the stories of resilience and good spirit from our USask community. Please send story ideas and photos to

As a community, it is critical that we support each other and remain respectful during what is a difficult time for all of us. Please follow all guidelines and take all precautions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in our community.

How you can help our students during the COVID-19 pandemic:

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The University of Saskatchewan is undertaking critical research and contributing to global efforts to combat COVID-19. The University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO-InterVac) is a world leader in developing vaccines and technologies to combat infectious diseases. Your support of the COVID-19 Research Fund supports the increased efforts of researchers at the University of Saskatchewan to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Donate now.