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 Jefferson Grad: Nursing Career is Strengthened by this Challenging Time

5/12/2020 12:00 AM

​My name is Alyssa Giardono and I am a 2018 graduate of Jefferson High School. I chose the Health Sciences Academy during high school, which gave me my first medical terminology class and an introduction to health. The year after that class, I was accepted into the Advance Now program, which offered me tuition-free prerequisite and science classes at Rock Valley College. For my last two years of high school, I took about half of my classes at Jefferson and two classes at Rock Valley College. Upon graduating, I was awarded the Rockford Promise scholarship to attend Rockford University for four years tuition-free. I have an amazing set of mentors who guided me into the nursing program at Rockford University. Luck is among the many words I would use to describe my opportunities at Rockford Public Schools through starting college at an accelerated pace, knowing early on what field I wanted to enter, and working and tutoring students in my desired field all through this time. 

My time as a nursing student during the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of challenging. With the switch to online learning and the loss of valuable clinical time, nursing students across the globe are at a disadvantage in the clinical setting. On the bright side, many of us are learning early on the preparedness that will anchor our careers in the future, as many of us are already in the healthcare setting. Nursing is a highly adaptive profession in which you prepare for the worst and hope for the best, so this pandemic has brought attention to many core details of health and safety, including how to protect your family when coming home from working on a COVID-19 unit. 

Although I miss out on clinical time through school, my job as a certified nurse's aide (CNA) at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center has taught me what I was missing out on in nursing school clinicals — how to effectively care for COVID patients and balance staff members' interaction with those patients. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when there are shortages, clustering care to minimize exposure, and providing compassionate care is not something you can memorize from a PowerPoint, but something you acquire in the field itself, or something you just naturally have. 

Not only does the experience I have as a CNA during the pandemic motivate me, but I now feel as if my nursing career is strengthened by this challenging time. Most current nurses have never lived through a pandemic first-hand, so this is a learning process for everyone involved.

Working with the COVID-19 patients scared me at first; however, I realized that I was actually a small link in the chain of the continuum of care for these patients who needed healthcare professionals now more than ever before. The feeling you get when you know you have positively impacted someone's life is more rewarding than any degree, but I am proud to call myself a nurse in the future, especially after all I have learned throughout the pandemic. 

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