As we turn back our clocks this weekend, it’s also time to salute all the night shift workers in our lives who will log an extra hour of work during their overnight shifts on Saturday. They include the frontline health care folks who are there for us when we need it the most, and now we’re taking the opportunity to say thanks for everything they do.

I am mindful of the long shifts and the tired eyes displayed by our nurses when teams are short-staffed. I know their commitment to keep going is fueled by the victory that comes when a patient recovers and the love they have for their patients. We live in trying times, and health care professionals all around us continue to answer the call day after day — even at their own risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are our real-life superheroes.

Western Governors University is proud to be one of the state’s leading education providers for nurses and other health care professionals, and we are sharing tokens of our appreciation to several night shift crews around Utah this weekend. We are providing kits that include a handwritten note of thanks from WGU faculty and staff along with snacks, sleep masks, coffee and pens. We hope our small gestures have a big impact.

Many of the students in our nursing degree programs are also night shift workers. They appreciate WGU’s flexible, online approach to higher education, which allows them to advance in their careers and study on their own schedules while also providing quality care to their patients at work and oftentimes caring for families at home.

There is a shortage of nurses right now, and every effort should be made to support those interested in pursuing this important career. This is why WGU created a special scholarship for night shift workers who may be considering completing or advancing their college educations around their demanding schedules. We also work carefully with the state’s health care providers to align what we teach with what nurses need to know in order to succeed. Now more than ever, that alignment is essential.

Please join me and WGU in offering our sincere gratitude to all the night shift workers who stand ready to serve — in the middle of the night.

 Ismar Vallecillos is director of Utah operations at Western Governors University.