A Nurse's Story: MNE Nursing Student Testimonials

Tuesday May 08, 2018

Going above and beyond
Cari Akerly, ASN graduate and RN-BSN student

Since I have worked at UPMC Hamot, I have seen many spectacular nurses do great things for their patients, and not just by caring for their healthcare needs.  Working in a facility for six years you really get a chance to see who is working for a paycheck and who truly cares for their patients and their outcomes. 

Two events stand out for me. The first event centered on a young woman dying of cancer. Despite the terminal prognosis she and her boyfriend opted to get engaged. The staff arranged for the couple to get married in the hospital, decorating the hallway and wheeling her in her bed down a makeshift aisle. It was such a touching and life-changing experience.  

The second experience was one that I personally got to be a part of. The wife of a patient suffering from laryngeal cancer died during his 35-day hospital stay. One of the nurses on my floor arranged for him to attend the funeral service. She actually accompanied him on her day off. This made a huge difference in the grieving process for the patient.  

As for me, I was working when the man learned of his wife’s passing. It was a trying day for him because he was no longer able to speak and couldn’t express his grief and anguish through a conversation. The night before the service, I made sure he was able to shower and prepared him for the day. The nurse who accompanied him said that, despite being in the hospital for 35 days, he was the best-looking person at the service. Situations like this break your heart but they also give you a lot of pride in what you do and help you realize that it’s totally worth it if you can help just one person.

Never too old to go back to school
Melodie Clark, LP-ASN Bridge program graduate and RN-BSN student

I have worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs since Dec. 26, 1989, holding several positions throughout the facility. 

I was selected for an upper-mobility program for Licensed Practice Nurse (LPN), which I completed in 2001 through the School District of the City of Erie.

Currently, I am working as an LPN in the VA’s primary care outpatient clinic. I am certified for IVs, telemetry and phlebotomy and my nursing experience includes hospice, palliative care, rehabilitation and medical surgery.  I have had the pleasure of working with some exceptional staff members who have provided an outstanding learning environment for me.  

I feel that nursing is an ongoing learning process with the constant changes in protocol and processes based on evidence-based studies. Over the years, several people have tried to convince me to go back to school and get my Registered Nurse (RN) degree.  My first thought was that I am too old to go to college. My second thought was that pursuing an RN degree online would not be an option as I have always been in a classroom setting. My third thought was the cost of tuition. In fall 2015, I told my husband that I would like to inquire about the LPN to RN Bridge Program at Mercyhurst North East, and I ultimately enrolled.

Thanks to modern technology, the teaching and learning processes are different today compared to when I was in school. With patience, support and assistance from others, I have adapted. 

Overall my experience in the college setting has been very positive and rewarding and I plan to continue my college experience to pursue my RN degree. I would probably not be where I am today if it wasn’t for all the positive people in my life that have influenced me to continue my education. I hope that when I complete my journey, I will be a role model for others. A special thank you to my husband, Mark, who has been with me every step of the way.

The nursing profession is very rewarding as I enjoy continuously acquiring new knowledge and skills to provide quality care to the veterans.  

Mother sets example to emulate
Amanda Luvison, RN-BSN graduate

Ever since I could remember I have wanted to be a nurse. I used to spend my days after school at this little medical center in my small rural town with my mother, who was their nurse practitioner. 

Mom had always dedicated her life to the care and health of others. She even traveled to Africa on a mission trip to help the poverty-stricken residents of Chad with their healthcare needs.

I grew up in the healthcare field, but it wasn’t until 1997 that I saw first-hand the positive difference that nurses can make. My mother was diagnosed with melanoma. At that time, not much was known about melanoma except that it was an aggressive and deadly skin cancer. I remember going with her to appointments and hospital visits. 

She was such an amazing woman that she turned her struggle and suffering into teaching moments because she knew I wanted to follow in her nursing footsteps. Along the way we had such a strong support system from her friends and colleagues. The most amazing people I have ever met were encountered during that time, and they were the nurses. 

Nurses are truly the most kind, caring, selfless, compassionate and loving people you will ever meet. My mother’s best friend, who was a registered nurse, never left her bedside while she was taking her last breaths. 

My mother fought a courageous fight against cancer for five years before she was laid to rest. To this day, I meet people who say how she had changed their lives and how grateful they are that their lives crossed paths. Her impact continues every year with the Nyla Luvison Memorial 5K Run that benefits the American Cancer Society. 

Even though she is no longer with us, she is still helping those in need. She is the reason that I am a nurse, she and all the other amazing nurses who were there for us during such a tragic time. 

I am now a registered nurse at UPMC Hamot in the Medical Oncology unit. Most days are very hard for me. I relive my greatest nightmare almost daily. But when I get to be that nurse who is there for patients and their families, no other job can be more rewarding. Nurses are truly amazing people. 

Being strong for patients
Jemell Cruz, ASN graduate and RN-BSN student

I love what I do. It’s who I am. And the fact that I am with people when they are probably at their weakest point in their lives empowers me to be stronger for them. My only goal when leaving work each day is that I did – or at least tried to do – everything I could for my patients. 

Some days are harder than others and there are patients you just cannot please. I have come to realize and accept that in life. The easiest thing you can do is smile. My mother worked hard for what she wanted and here I am doing the same. Her independence and work ethic is something I definitely inherited. I love this field because everyone is unique and should be treated as such. I love that I am in a field where I am working around people who share the same thoughts and feelings as I do.  

Being a part of a team where we help each other out and look out for one another is really fun and exciting. Going to college for nursing was hard for me as I am sure it was for others. I feel proud of myself, but also proud of other nurses because nursing school is not easy and I value being around others who have succeeded at it. 

I think education is so important and, in this field, nurses are always learning. I get excited because as nurses we are providing evidenced-based care to improve patient outcomes. There are so many different specialties and opportunities for nurses to take on. I am excited to continue to educate myself and see where this amazing field takes me. 

One of the nurse preceptors on the unit where I started my nursing career, Jonna, has been a nurse for more than 20 years. She is someone who I value and admire. She is knowledgeable, outgoing, realistic and advocates for her patients. Jonna is definitely a nurse I will never forget because she, along with the great nurse educators around me, helped shaped me into the nurse that I am today. 

Testing the waters
Trung Kitchener, ASN graduate and RN-BSN student

Although, I am not a registered nurse yet, I still receive satisfaction from studying the profession.  It wasn’t until I became a nurse’s assistant that I knew I chose the right career path for me.  

I was bouncing between majors when I finally decided to major in nursing. I had two semesters under my belt but I was still hesitant about the choice I made. I received some advice from one of my instructors to seek a position as a nurse’s aide to help familiarize myself in a hospital setting, which is what I did.

The nurses on my floor were very receptive and willing to teach, answer my questions and satisfy my curiosities. I realized working in the hospital for the first time would have a learning curve, but I am extremely glad that I decided to pursue the job. It was beneficial for me during nursing school, especially regarding the clinical requirements. I would recommend any nursing student to follow the same advice that I received because it helps tremendously.  

Whether it be working in the hospital as a nurse’s aide or student nurse, receiving the gratification and appreciation of patients is extremely fulfilling, and helps get you through busy and burdening days. Watching patients’ health improve and knowing that you were a part of that process gives you great satisfaction. I am finally convinced that I chose a career path that will give me satisfaction indefinitely.