Jesse Segal of New Windsor, N.Y. is one of many Mount Saint Mary College nursing students utilizing medical skills in hospitals throughout the tri-state area.
As part of his complex health clinical experience at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital, Segal takes vital statistics and blood samples and administers medication, among a host of other responsibilities.
Under the tutelage of instructor Linda Ruta, Segal and four classmates attend to patients in the intensive care unit.
“There’s a lot of hands-on care,” Segal said. “It’s like learning a new language – you have to put a lot into it.”
In learning the “language” of nursing, Jill Saydlowski of Milford, Conn. said that hard work is rewarded with a sense of fulfillment.
“A triumph is when you come back next week and a patient is doing better,” she said.
Alyssa Zordan from Torrington, Conn. said her work at St. Luke’s has been valuable and exciting. Everything she’s learned in other clinical experiences is coming into play.
Ruta noted that in the beginning, it took the students about two hours to give all their patients medication. Now the process takes less than an hour.
“We always see improvement,” she said. “These are bright, effective students. They’re going to be wonderful nurses.”
Ruta described the process of becoming a nurse as “like an onion – there’s always one more layer.”
Kasey Ronan from Yonkers, N.Y. has been building those layers up since she started her Mount education. Her St. Luke’s clinical has been instrumental to her development.
“Being in ICU, there are tubes and wires in the room, and you have to work around them. At the same time you have to focus on the patient,” she said. “I learned what to do with critical patients in critical situations.”
Segal says he’s encountered many new situations while stationed at St. Luke’s, each one increasing his skill set.
Zordan added that the St. Luke’s staff is very supportive and helpful.
Joan Cusack-McGuirk, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital, said she was impressed with the Mount student nurses.
“The only people I love more than nurses are nursing students,” she said. “The Mount does a really good job and we’re pleased that they’re here. This is our future.”
At Mount Saint Mary College, more than 40 percent of first year students aim for health professions. Sophomore nursing students don scrubs and stethoscopes and begin their applied learning semesters earlier than other colleges.
Kristen Lippert from Wingdale, N.Y. said the extra real-world experience helped her to sharpen her nursing skills more quickly, and concentrate on more difficult situations in her senior year.
“You’re not going to get away with just sitting around,” she said. “It’s real nursing.”
Working with 30 to 40 hospitals, the Mount offers the only nationally accredited four-year nursing degree program in the mid Hudson Valley and boasts a high NCLEX-RN passage rate that consistently exceeds the state average.
At Orange Regional Medical Center (ORMC) in Middletown, N.Y., Mount nursing student Alexandra Klein from Vernon, N.J. recently witnessed twins being born. Klein, who is considering going into maternity nursing, couldn’t talk about the experience without grinning.
“I love caring for babies; they’re a bundle of joy,” she said. “Maternity is a happy field. What a great experience.”
Emily Blew from Columbus, N.J. said she’s pleased with the variety her ORMC clinical provides her.
Che-la Devonshire from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. agreed that her time at ORMC allowed her to explore many aspects of nursing, and get a feel for what she might want to focus on later in her career.
“In this medical-surgical rotation, I’ve had the opportunity to work with all kinds of patients,” she said. “It gives me a chance to assess and comfort in different areas, and it also allows me to expand my education.”
Natalia Miller from Cornwall, N.Y. said that the Mount instilled the skills to be successful. She cited instructors like Jeanne Roth and Ann Corcoran as pivotal.
“I see a difference in our skills,” said Miller. “We feel much more confident. I know we can do what we set our minds to do, and go where we want to go.”
Mount graduates work as registered nurses in the Northeast and beyond. At St. Luke’s, Margaret Deyo-Allers ’03 is director of clinical practice, Toni-Marie Bouton ‘88 is a registered nurse working in the operating room, and Cheryl R. Barnum ‘91 is a member of the hospital’s orthopedic staff.
Alex Peguero-Medrano, a 2012 graduate and registered nurse, began working at Sharon Hospital in Sharon, Conn. in October.
Also in Connecticut, at Danbury Hospital, Michael C. Emond ‘95 is an assistant nurse manager and Irene L. Jagde ’88 is a registered nurse in the intensive care unit.
For his maternity clinical, student nurse Nick Powell from Walden, N.Y. is stationed at Danbury Hospital. From before birth through postpartum assessment, Powell gets a wide spectrum of experience.
“It’s pretty intense,” said Powell.
Caring for newborns is a new experience, he said.
“It’s so different,” explained Powell. “They’re so much more fragile. But I wouldn’t say it’s difficult – just something new to learn.”
Mount students also provide community nursing, where the focus is on education and prevention.
For her community nursing placement, Lisa Zylberberg from Newburgh, N.Y., an RN to BS candidate, explained the dangers of smoking to sixth grade students at Monroe-Woodbury Middle School.
“When I showed them what cigarettes are, what chemicals are in there – tar, ammonia, pesticides – their eyes just opened up,” said Zylberberg.
For her community nursing course, Michelle Espinosa from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., taught prevention of sports injuries in the Arlington School District before finishing the semester at the Dutchess County Department of Health. Antoinette Iaquez-Samuelson from New Windsor, N.Y. taught flu prevention techniques to fourth graders at Cornwall Elementary School, and Jessica Curran from Saugerties, N.Y. discussed heart and lung health with students in the Wallkill School District.
In previous semesters, students have aided post-op and chronic patients in their homes, participated in flu shot clinics, given presentations to nursing professionals on special topics, and more.
For Zylberberg, the benefits of her community nursing course are already tangible.
“The more you’re able to speak with patients and get information out of them, the more you’re preventing diseases from reoccurring,” she said. “In any facet of health care, you need to have open communication with patients.”
Zylberberg credits Mount nursing professor Priscilla Sagar with not only being a great teacher, but also with inspiring her to complete her bachelor’s degree. Sagar used to bring her nursing students to a clinic where Zylberberg was working.
“She used to say, ‘Why don’t you come to the Mount?’ ” explained Zylberberg. “I’m glad I did. It’s a great program and I’m really happy.”