More than a patient: Students talk nursingBy Ellen Johnson | 03/31/2016 9:29am
The Capstone College of Nursing has been accredited by the Alabama Board of Nursing since 1976. CW | Jonathan Daniels
After choosing a major in biology as a freshman to pursue a career as a physician assistant, she thought about it more and realized that wasn’t what she wanted to do at all. There was one area of the medical field that was perfect for Prinsell: nursing.
“In nursing you provide a more holistic approach,” Prinsell said. “You focus on the person, not just their disease or sickness. I really care about people mentally and emotionally as well as physically.”
Prinsell is one of many students studying at the Capstone College of Nursing, which has been accredited by the Alabama Board of Nursing since its opening in 1976. Students have chosen nursing for a variety of reasons, but each has a passion for service.
Robyn Singer, a senior in her fourth semester of nursing school, also started out as a biology major before discovering that she really wanted to be a nurse.
“I started out as a biology major [and] then I was like, ‘This sucks – I don’t care about any of this. I just want to learn about people already, so I’ll do nursing,’ ” Singer said. “I didn’t realize how much I would like it. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
The process of getting accepted to nursing school begins early with taking required science classes as underclassmen. Then, as a sophomore, potential nursing students take an exam called the HESI, which in combination with a strong GPA, yields acceptance into the nursing program. As an upperclassman in the program, students work hands-on in hospitals under a supervisor and receive training in the field.
All of the hoops that must be jumped through to get to nursing school might just seem like a series of challenging tasks, but for passionate nursing students, it all pays off in the end.
Singer said that while nursing school can be challenging at times, there are tangible moments that show how much it’s worth it.
“I had clinical in the ER, and we had a stroke patient,” Singer said. “That was my first day in the ER, and we were able to get him the medicine the whole time, and we saw him slowly improve. You see the product of your work right then.”
For senior Kylie Kelaher, nursing school has been a difficult journey, but a worthwhile one.
“I had to redo a semester, which was heartbreaking for me,” Kelaher said. “I cried every day that semester. But afterwards, I understood it so much more. What I had to go through completely changed the way I study.”
She felt called to nursing because of the time she gets to spend with patients.
“When you’re a doctor, you have 50 patients and you only have five minutes with each of them,” Kelaher said. “That wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to be there and develop relationships – to hold them when they’re upset and celebrate with them when they’re happy.”
One patient in particular has had an impact on Kelaher during her clinical experience.
“One of my patients, Gary, had just gotten his hip replaced, and he was really lonely and really sad,” Kelaher said. “We just connected from the get-go. I sat in his room for eight hours and we talked. And when I left he gave me a huge hug and said, ‘I appreciate you.’ I got really attached to him, and it broke my heart that I wouldn’t be back the next day to check on him.”
Prinsell has also found her hands-on work in hospitals, called clinicals, to be rewarding.
“For me the clinical time is rewarding because you can read as much you want in a book or notes, but you don’t realize until you’re with a patient how much you mean to them,” Prinsell said. “Knowing that I make a difference when I’m with a patient is why I chose nursing. Knowing that I make a difference is really rewarding.”
Bradleigh Smith, a junior in the nursing program, said getting more comfortable in her nursing studies has helped her to feel like it was the right choice for her. Professors have helped her and prepared her to enter the field when she graduates.
“Any time my teacher says, ‘Oh this is good and you’ve done well’ and I don’t need further instruction is reassuring that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and I’m where I’m supposed to be,” Smith said. “I’m very appreciative of the instructors showing us how to do it, but I’m excited to get out there on my own and do it.”
Kelaher, like other nursing majors, has continued to develop connections with her patients and a connection to the work that nurses do every day. Last semester, one of her patients had fallen in her home and wasn’t found for two days.
“That hit home with me,” Kelaher said. “That could have been my grandma or anyone. She was crying and I asked her, ‘Do you mind if I pray over you?’ She started crying and then we prayed together and it was awesome. I said to myself, ‘Yes I love this. This is what my life is going to be.’ ”