Sarah is a nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut! She filled us in on what her life is like.
What was your major at Simmons and what is your current job title?
My major was nursing. I am currently a clinical nurse on a geriatric medical unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut.
What is a typical day like at your job?
As a night nurse on a medical geriatric unit, we see everything from pneumonia to delirium -- no day is exactly the same for me. Some days I get to help a patient out of bed who might not have walked for a few days, and in another room I'm providing emotional support for a family who's loved one might be passing soon. I really love that there is no "typical" day (or night I suppose) for me. I never know what I'll run into at my job, but it keeps my on my toes. And I've been working as a nurse for almost a year now and every night I learn something new because it's never the same!
What was the job application process like for you?
Scary! I started applying to jobs way back in February of my senior year because I was petrified of not finding anything. Luckily I started getting interviews my last month of nursing school. I was actually really fortunate and found a full time position right where I grew up in Connecticut near my family. It took a long time -- I put out probably a hundred applications all over the place, but once I found this job I knew it was the perfect fit for me!
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love being able to teach! As a nurse you're always teaching something to a patient. I teach about safety, new medications, diagnoses, pretty much everything and anything! A patient has a lot of questions, and the hospital is a new scary place for most people. I really love being able to sit down and talk through anything my patient or their family's don't understand.
How did you know Simmons was a good fit for you?
I knew Simmons was a good fit once I toured. I never took the "official" tour through the college -- but a girl from my hometown graduated from Simmons. She took me around the school and I fell in love with the area. The fact that all of the best hospitals in Boston were literally blocks away from campus drew me in. Having such amazing opportunities right next door was perfection in my eyes. I could envision myself working or studying at one of these amazing hospitals. I knew then and there that I wanted to be at Simmons.
What made you want to become a nurse?
When I was younger, my aunt and uncle were in a terrible car accident. When we arrived at the Emergency Room, I unfortunately saw some blood and things a young girl probably wasn't prepared for and got upset. The one thing I remember is the nurse that assured me that everything would be ok. She sat with my until I stopped crying and calmed me down. It was that nurse that really had me start thinking about nursing as a career. I began volunteering at a local hospital in Connecticut, and the rest was history.
What's the most rewarding part of being a nurse?
When you see what you've done for a patient improve their lives for the better. Sometimes when an admission comes to the unit, they're extremely ill with a high temperature, crazy blood pressure, bad infection and so many other things. It's easy to become fixated on the numbers and the diagnosis, and want to simply fix it. But once you hang the IV antibiotics and change the dressings for a wound, you start to talk to a patient and get to know them. You find out that you're caring for a Holocaust survivor -- which surprisingly the other day I did -- or that they served in a war a long time ago. Over time they get better, and you see them leave one day with their family. It's the days when my patients get to leave me in better shape then they came in that I know I did something good.
How do you stay motivated throughout the rigorous -- and at times stressful -- hours spent working as a nurse?
Some nights it's harder than others. I have amazing co-workers. We tell jokes, order takeout, always lend each other hands to help when we have time. Outside of work I treat myself to manicures and pedicures after long weeks. I listen to music on the way to work. I see my friends and family as often as possible. I've started spinning class recently to burn off extra stress. It's pretty much keeping everything in balance.
What was your favorite class you took at Simmons? Why?
Death and Dying with Professor Teeley and Professor Barron. I really think all nursing students should be required to take this class! I took it as an elective, and I really fell in love with it. I think sometimes we have such a hard time with the concept of death, not only as nurses but as humans. It's a hard thing to talk about and to experience in general. This course really helped me understand my own feelings about death and dying and how to help my patients who are dealing with their own journey through death. I am actually more comfortable and understanding of how to help my dying patients and their families at work because of this class.
If you could come back and take one class at Simmons what would it be?
Any of Professor Glynn's classes! I miss her saying, "Ladies!" and "Airway, airway, airway!" Her lectures were always the most informative and interesting I ever had at Simmons.
How has it been transitioning into a young professional?
It's been easy in some ways but hard in other ways. I know that so much of what I learned from Simmons really prepared me for my career as a nurse. All my amazing clinical rotations, my classes, the professors -- and even my out of school experiences contributed to who I am as a nurse today. But it's been hard some days figuring out how to be a professional when I've been a student for almost my entire life now. I think I'm finally getting the hang of it though!
How did Simmons help prepare you for your career?
Simmons gave me the best education I could have ever asked for. Great courses and lectures combined with the perfect clinical experiences made for the best nursing program I could've picked. It was challenging but it really made me rise to the occasion. Before Simmons I felt like I always sold myself short in school. In high school I never felt like I could take the "harder" courses or get the A's. At Simmons, I was not only in nursing, but I was in the Honors Program, had a job, studied abroad and excelled. I really couldn't have asked for more.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I'd love to be in a classroom or lecture hall somewhere giving back what my professors gave to me. I really want to teach future nurses someday so that we have more future professionals who can continue to care for those in our hospitals and clinics.
What advice would you give to the current Simmons undergraduate students?
Work hard, but don't forget to enjoy Boston
. It's an amazing city with so much to offer. There's music, sports, culture and so many other things. Soak up as much of it as you can while you're there!
What's your Simmons moment?
I was so lucky to have had the opportunity as a nursing student to not only study abroad but to also have a clinical rotation abroad in Spain. I learned Spanish, lived in a home with a Spanish family, took classes at the local university and worked at the hospital. I got to combine my love of language with my love of nursing and go to a new country to learn those two things. I don't think I would have had such an amazing opportunity if I didn't go to Simmons. My time abroad really shaped me into who I am today.