In the next two weeks, as Bonnie Metzger finishes her finals and state licensure testing, she says she’s especially grateful to be graduating from nursing school and poised to join colleagues nationwide “in the most noble profession,” thanks to Chamberlain University College of Nursing. Chamberlain has graduated more than 3,000 Bachelor of Science in Nursing prepared students since January.
“I am a graduating BSN student from the Sacramento campus. Chamberlain, once again, has shown amazing resolve and adaptability getting our students graduated in the midst of the most difficult health crisis our country has ever seen. We are ready to serve our communities!” said the Lincoln, CA resident on Facebook, one of many nurses Chamberlain honors as a Portrait of Courage during this year's National Nurses Week celebration.
Metzger’s thankfulness underscores feelings shared by many of her senior nursing student peers who are poised to start a new chapter in their lives despite a national pandemic where social distancing has dramatically impacted universities and colleges across the country. At Chamberlain, these students saw a swift shift to online classes in the homestretch of their nursing education.
For Sunshine Biddy of Dallas, GA, studying for finals at home has had its pluses. Being able to hunker down and study without her time-consuming commute to campus is keeping her “very focused.”
“All I do is study,” says Biddy, 45, who is fulfilling a 20-year derailed childhood wish to follow both her parents into nursing. She is trying to focus on the positive, she says.
I’ve had a couple careers along the way, and they all had to do with the fact that I wanted to save the world,” says Biddy, who graduated from college with an anthropology degree, worked in nonprofits and has been a yoga instructor. “I grew up watching my parents as nurses, and now I’m excited to start my own nursing career.”
Jasmyn Williams of Cleveland, OH, says FaceTime final cramming study sessions helped push her toward the graduation finish line. She transformed the dining room table in her apartment into a virtual classroom and testing center.
“It just feels very scary,” says Williams, 23, who is lamenting the postponement of her class’ formal graduation ceremony, but excited that it has been rescheduled for September.
She says even in this moment of uncertainty, there is an underlying sense of optimism. She is grateful that Chamberlain is delivering all the pre-licensure classes through an online learning format to keep them on track for graduation.
"At first I was very stressed because I didn’t know if we would be able to finish all of my credits and work,” says Williams, who has a job waiting for her in the neonatal intensive care unit at one of the major metropolitan hospitals in the Cleveland area.
She also is finding strong support from three classmates she met when she started nursing school who have grown to become inseparable kindred spirits. The four of them host FaceTime study groups and are in contact with each other throughout every day.
“I was really afraid of becoming socially isolated, not being able to study at Starbucks, or go to Target and to see my friends at school and after,” Williams says. “But we’ve figured out a great way to make it happen and stay close.”
Metzger is eager to get to work … as soon as she completes her graduation requirements and passes the exam.
"COVID-19 has certainly made this a more uphill challenge,” says Metzger, who at 50 wanted a mid-life change and decided to enter nursing school. “I’m learning a lot about telehealth and adjusting to that. Nursing is such a hands-on profession and it’s so much different and hard to try to work with a patient when you really can’t see their body language and get that first-person experience with them.”
“We talk so much in our classes about nurses having to be nimble and this is great hands-on training for that, right before we graduate,” says Metzger, a mother of three grown children and grandmother of six (almost seven).
Though they are in different locations throughout the country, all three say they are looking forward to the day when they can walk across the stage and be handed their nursing diploma. COVID-19, they say, can’t take away their passion for and commitment to helping others as nurses.
“I’ve wanted to be a nurse for a very long time, thinking I wanted to save the world,” says Biddy. “Well now we are graduating at a time when nursing is a profession that is helping to save the world. I’m excited.”
By Mary Beth Sammons
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