As a nursing major at the University of New England, I work very hard and it is worth every minute. So far, I have enjoyed the experience immensely and clinicals are where I find myself most motivated and passionate about what I’m learning. To me, there is nothing more gratifying than interacting with patients and making their days just a little brighter.
I am currently in my junior year at UNE and attending my first clinical at the New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland. I have learned so much already, such as helping patients with basic tasks, answering call bells, filling out paperwork effectively, and much more. It is an extremely eye-opening experience.
Looking back, throughout my freshman and sophomore year, I became restless in my classes. I wanted to be in a care facility, getting hands-on experience and learning from doing, rather than from textbooks or class lectures. But, now that I have started clinicals, I realize how valuable the learning that took place in those lecture halls really was.
I think now about what I would do in a health care setting without that foundational knowledge and I laugh. All the hours spent studying and actively engaging in lectures as an underclassman were definitely worthwhile. In fact, every part of nursing school is beneficial, because in the end, all those moments lead to the ultimate goal of becoming a nurse.
That being said, I’m a tactile learner, meaning I learn best by implementing a hands-on approach. In nursing, this is where clinicals come in. I have learned about my future career, not only from the patients I help care for, but also from the nurses. Socializing and connecting with other nurses who have been in the field for years may be one of the most enlightening components of clinical.
Exposure to health care settings comes with an entirely different kind of learning experience than reading textbooks or attending lectures. At New England Rehab, not only do I have the opportunity to understand how to set up a sterile field and take vital signs, I learn things like the importance of family to a specific patient and how to improve a patient’s confidence. These are not only nursing lessons, but life lessons I will never forget.
These are all reasons why I feel lucky to be getting this experience during this difficult time. The effort the University of New England has made to keep their students involved in clinicals during the pandemic is extraordinary. Though it is a little different, such as wearing PPE in labs and taking part in online simulations when not attending clinical, UNE nursing students are extremely fortunate to be able to continue to learn through hands-on, real life experiences.
B.S. Nursing, ’22
Elizabeth is currently working toward her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at UNE. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad in Seville, Spain, where she learned not only about the nursing field, but about different cultures throughout Europe. In the future, she plans to work as a Registered Nurse in a pediatric oncology unit. When she’s not studying, she enjoys hiking, photography and reading.