Traffic jam derails local woman's attempt to become registered nurse

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An accident on the highway and a controversial nursing school policy is what led to one student to push for change.

Serena Hernandez was taught that if you wanted to be a nurse, now’s as a good a time as any.

She enrolled in Bryant and Stratton College to continue her goal of being an RN.

"I'm an LPN,” Hernandez said. “I work with individuals with developmental disabilities."

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It didn’t take much to derail those plans.

An accident on I-480 last week backed up her commute to her clinical, causing her to miss it completely.

"Got the phone call that I was eliminated from that course because it was an unexcused absence,” Hernandez said.

The nursing program at Bryant and Stratton College has a clear rule, it’s written in the student handbook that unexcused absences will result in a failed grade, no matter what.

"I believe that the policy itself is completely unrealistic,” Hernandez said.

Joshua Joseph, Eastlake campus director, said the rules are in place for a reason.

"It's not a question of fairness, it's a question of uniformity and it's applied uniformally,” Joseph said.

Hernandez argued the rule doesn’t take into account anyone’s humanity, the same reason many people sign up for the career in the first place.

"Honestly, had I been five minutes earlier that day, I still wouldn't have made it to clinicals because I would have pulled over to help take care of the person who was hit by that car,” Hernandez said.

With the program costing upwards of $40,000, it’s money not many can afford to throw away.

"We're paying for a service and I am a customer,” Hernandez said. “You don't just say 'hey I'm sorry I don't know what to tell you' but we're going to take your money anyway."

This fight isn’t for her anymore, she said it’s for those who have the heart to for the job and want to see it through.

"I hate to think that a flat tire, them being in an accident, something like that will be taking dedicated people out because of a flaw in a policy,” Hernandez said.

She plans to meet with the head of the program on Tuesday, in hopes of coming to a solution.