The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives of all Americans and has been at the forefront of people’s minds since early this year. For many recent nursing graduates at Utah State University Moab, the fight against COVID-19 takes place at Moab Regional Hospital.
Working on the front line
A typical workday for USU Moab 2020 nursing graduate Andrea Bane begins like this. Upon arriving at Moab Regional at the Respiratory Evaluation area, Bane dons her Positive Air Purifying Hood, a personal protective full-gown suit designed to filter air and protect her as she administers COVID-19 tests.
Bane is known by some in Moab as the “COVID Queen,” because she is the full-time employee in charge of administering the nasal swab invasive deep test. She also administers the less invasive basic test for asymptomatic patients. Having just received her nursing license in June, Bane has spent her entire career so far fighting a pandemic.
“At first it seemed overwhelming because there are so many unknowns in my head,” she said. “I was new to the field and it is already crazy to be a new graduate entering the field with COVID, it’s ever changing with new data that comes out and, in my unit, we are always adapting to the constant changes in the respiratory evaluation. I don’t really know what the experience was like before COVID.”
Another frontline worker at Moab Regional is Daysha Talbert, who graduated from USU Moab in May. Talbert currently works as a registered nurse on the Medical Surgical floor. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States when she was a student, Talbert would assist with all nursing duties at the hospital, whether it be broken bones, respiratory illnesses, or any number of situations. However, having discovered she was pregnant at the time the coronavirus outbreak occurred, her role has changed, as she is considered an at-risk employee. She now only sees patients who have tested negative for the virus, which has been a challenge for someone who loves to help others.
“Working in the medical field during COVID-19 has been a learning experience unlike any other,” Talbert said. “The biggest influence in combating the virus has been wearing proper PPE [personal protective equipment] not only when seeing patients, but also when near co-workers. Hand washing has always been a huge deal in the medical field and this year it has been another reminder of why it's so important for patient safety and my own safety.”
Receiving quality training has made the difference
Despite being recent graduates who are being thrust into an uncertain environment of constant change and adaptation, both Bane and Talbert feel the education they received in their nursing program at USU Moab has allowed them to succeed, even with the challenges and uncertainty that come with a pandemic.
“USU Moab helped prepare me because the nursing program has faculty who have a variety of nursing backgrounds that play a role in their teaching,” Talbert said. “The clinical experiences and classroom learning that I had before graduation helped contribute in preparing me for my career in the medical field. I also participated in student government, and this gave me experience in leadership as well as time management, which are helpful tools in the nursing field.”
Bane echoed that sentiment. Although she said nothing could have fully prepared her for working in a pandemic environment, she felt that her instruction gave her the expertise and experience she needed to thrive in her new career and navigate challenges as they present themselves.
“I feel like I got a real quality education because of small class sizes, one-on-one time with instructors and we got immersed into the health care world,” she said. “Our instructors really worked hard and gave us every opportunity possible to learn with hands-on experience. It has been a good experience to be a student in Moab and now to work in the community. It’s a good feeling to know that I am helping.”
Nursing at USU Moab provides many with career opportunities
The nursing program at USU Moab works closely with the Moab Regional Hospital. Connie Wilson, MSN, and Rachel Parker, who is completing her MSN, partner to administer the nursing program in Moab. In addition to their roles as faculty, Wilson and Parker are RNs at Moab Regional. Students at USU Moab have the opportunity to work inside the hospital, receiving hands-on training.
“In Moab we can train our students locally,” Wilson said. “We are a small hospital and because of tourism, we see everything.”
In addition to their hands-on experience, Moab Regional has a history of employing many USU Moab graduates. According to Wilson, 50 percent of the spring 2020 graduating class now work at the Moab hospital.
“USU Moab graduates are vital to the staffing of Moab Regional Hospital,” she said. “Without being able to have these locally trained nurses, we would be in a shortage at the hospital. USU Moab is a fantastic source for employees.”
Wilson is proud of the work she and her fellow instructors provide to students. She recently received a Facebook message from a member of the community who said how impressed they were with the USU Moab nursing graduates.
“It gives me great pride to see them working hard and providing a great service to our community,” Wilson said. “It’s exciting to watch them work and grow.”
The road ahead for graduates
The battle against COVID-19 has yet to be won. However, graduates like Bane and Talbert are truly making an impact in their local community. They have a sense of pride in what they do and in their influence in people’s ability to get and remain healthy.
“I feel like I have made an impact and I am reminded each day by the people that come each day and they get emotional because of their gratitude,” Bane said. “We are here and test as many people as possible so everyone can be safe and have a peace of mind. I am glad I get to start my career this way because it has given me a passion for community nursing.”
Other recent USU Moab graduates on the front lines at Moab Regional include:
- Kelly Lindsey, RN - Emergency Department
- Lindsey Carlson - Urgent Care
- Mark Weissinger, RN - Urgent Care
- Rachel Parker, BSN, RN - Obstetrics
- Samantha McFarland, RN - COVID Critical Care Unit
- Mikenna Clokey, RN - COVID Critical Care Unit
- Tim McGinty, BSN, RN - Emergency Department
- Samantha Perna, RN - Urgent Care
- Kristi Clark, LPN - Respiratory Evaluation Area
For more information on USU’s nursing program, visit nursing.usu.edu.
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