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A Selfless Spring Break

For many college students, spring break is a chance to take a much-needed vacation. Others may head home to visit their families and catch up on sleep. Several nursing students chose to use this year’s spring break to serve others throughout the country and across the world. Here are a few of their stories.

Gracie Kelly, 7th Semester, Traditional BSN student
On her fifth Mizzou Alternative Breaks trip, Gracie was a site leader for an environmental service trip. Her team partnered with the San Juan Mountain Association to replace a rusty barbed wire fence that keeps wild horses in a safe region. They also helped with trail maintenance and trash clean up at the national parks.

“It was really out of my comfort zone,” she says, “and I did that on purpose to learn about the environment and see how it is connected to health. I learned a lot. If we are more mindful of what we are putting into the environment and what we are putting into our bodies, we could see better health outcomes.”

As a trip leader, Gracie also had to learn to handle unforeseen circumstances and plan changes.

“I had to learn how to adapt constantly,” she says. “There were many solutions and problems that came around that I had to try to solve – that is 100% nursing.”

Megan Sherman, 5th Semester, Traditional BSN, and Jonathan Aguilar, Accelerated student beginning May 2018

Jonathan and Megan were two of 60 Mizzou students who traveled to Harmons, Jamaica, with Veritas, a student ministry organization through The Crossing Church. The team built three homes for members of the community and spent time visiting patients in the infirmary, a home for those with physical and mental disabilities whose families could not care for them.

While in the infirmary, Megan and Jon sang to the residents and applied lotion to their feet.

“It showed me how the smallest of actions can have big impacts,” Megan says. “As a nursing student and one day as a nurse, I am not above any need. I have time to do what my patient needs me to do.”

Jon agrees – the infirmary experience pushed him to overcome insecurities to care for a patient in need.

“The infirmary was very outside my comfort zone,” he explains. “I was expected to show love and care despite any of my personal insecurities. It ended up being my favorite part of the trip.”

Gabby Sowa, pre-nursing student

Gabby led a weekend trip to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. As the community service chair of the Student Nurses’ Association (SNA), she contacted Mizzou Alternative Breaks about a partnership. They agreed and helped organize a trip for students who are in SNA.

“I want SNA to be involved in the greater community, not just Mizzou,” Gabby says. “I thought this would be a great experience for SNA to get more exposure. It was a great way to help people, promote ourselves and the school.”

The students visited with children staying in the hospital, leading them in arts and crafts and playing with them. They also visited Avalon Gardens, a nursing home in St. Louis, to play bingo with the residents and shadow staff nurses. Along the way, Gabby says she grew in her conviction that a career in nursing was for her.

“I came away realizing how much work it is, but how worthwhile the work is,” she says. “I really realized the effect just our interactions can have. I saw firsthand how much compassion can affect people of all ages in all settings.”

PhD Students Practice Advocacy

Three powerful days in Washington, D.C. taught Sinclair School of Nursing students the power of their voices as nurses.

PhD students Laura Remy and Karen Clark joined hundreds of students from around the United States at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Student Policy Summit March 25 – March 28. Students learned about the ways nurses can impact policy formation and change and practiced building a distinct, scholarly message to give to legislators.

Karen and Laura then delivered their messages, with four requests, to the staffs of Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

  1. Cosponsor the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act, which ensures communities have access to timely care through a diverse nursing pipeline as well as the faculty to educate future generations of nurses.
  2. Support nursing education and research in fiscal year 2019
  3. Support increasing access to treatment for opioid abuse
  4. Support the repeal of the Dickey Amendment, which prevents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding gun violence research.

For Laura, the experience stoked her existing passion for policy.

“I have always wanted to be involved in policy. I’ve said that I would like to be an elected representative, but it seemed like a pipe dream,” she says. “To hear nurses talk about their experiences was so inspiring to me. It is feasible for nurses to change policy, and it’s not so far out there that I could become an elected representative. I can even start advocating now.”

In fact, Laura plans to take action this election season by working with an elected official in her area.

Though Karen did not have any previous experience in policy, she too learned the power of her voice.

“One voice really can make a difference,” she says. “Seeing that in practice was incredible. It was so inspiring to see the next generation standing up for what they believed in.”

Karen is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholar who is researching caregiver stress of grandparents raising their grandchildren. She anticipates graduating in 2019.

Laura is a National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) funded T32 Behavior Science Pre-Doctoral Fellow. She is researching the development of behavioral interventions to enhance the outcomes in vulnerable populations living with chronic health conditions, such as HIV, and anticipates completing her PhD in 2020.

Gabrielle Vest, Traditional BSN

Eighth-semester student Gabrielle Vest has made an impact not just in the Sinclair School of Nursing, but across the University of Missouri campus. Her accomplishments were recognized earlier this semester, when she was inducted into Mizzou 39.

As part of a class assignment, students made videos of themselves highlighting their accomplishments as though they were applying for a job. Watch Vest share about her time at Mizzou.

Robbie Towner, Accelerated BSN

On two separate occasions, accelerated student Robbie Towner has been able to assist victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) because of simulation training he received in the MUSSON Simulation Center.

Originally from California, Towner works as an EMT at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Columbia while completing nursing school. During his mental health class in the Sinclair School of Nursing, Towner and his classmates completed an IPV simulation event, which taught them how to recognize signs of IPV and assist the victim while keeping everyone safe.

This kind of simulation training makes the SSON stand out, Towner says. “Not a lot of schools would take the time to do that kind of training,” he says. “It’s not testable on the NCLEX, but it is something that we need to know.”

Once while on a shift, Towner was assisting a victim whose husband had gone to the hospital with her. When her husband wasn’t looking, the victim mouthed “call the police” to Towner. Because of his training in the Simulation Center, he knew the proper steps to take to separate the woman from her husband safely and get police intervention.

Another time, a woman came into the emergency room at 3 a.m. with non-specific symptoms. Suddenly, she made a comment that took Towner aback. “I don’t have any family here, so I won’t be having any visitors,” she said. 

Some may have brushed that comment off, but because of his training in the Simulation Center, Towner knew this could be a sign the woman was fleeing intimate partner violence. He mentioned his concern to the doctor, who explored further and confirmed Towner’s feelings were correct.

“I think these stories just prove that simulation is successful,” Towner says. “Simulation told me to trust my gut feelings, and they were right. It decreases our anxiety, even in stressful situations, and leads to successful interventions.”

Earn a graduate degree for a fraction of the price!

Working for University of Missouri Health Care while continuing your education can be a perfect match. With online classes, you can earn your Doctor of Nursing Practice or master’s degree while still working. Classes fit into your busy schedule. It’s also affordable! As part of your employee benefits, you get 75% off the cost of tuition.

With six DNP areas of study and two master’s areas of study, there is a program for you! Apply today.

See what current students and employees have to say.

Alberto Baltazar, MS(N) – Nurse Educator student; Medical Intensive Care Unit, University of Missouri Health Care
“To be able to work at a place I love and have them pay for me to go to school is amazing! I looked into a lot of different hospitals, and this benefit is unique to here. It doesn’t happen in other places. Because it’s all online, it’s nice that I can do my classes when I can fit them into my schedule.”

Grace Johnson, DNP student -Pediatric Nurse Practitioner; Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Women’s and Children’s Hospital
“It’s really cool to be able to continue using my skills while going to school and get a great discount on tuition.”

 

 

Bridgett Robbins, DNP student – Nursing Leadership & Innovations in Health Care; Clinical Manager, University of Missouri Health Care
“It is such a good fit. I’ve always read leadership books to grow in my job, so I decided I should take some classes to get credit for it. I calculated it, and with my employee benefit, I think I’m going to pay less than $6,000 total for my entire doctoral degree!”

Apply today! Applications are due April 1. Contact DNP Program Director Miriam Butler for more information.