By Maureen Regan, ’17
Setting foot in a place like Léogâne, the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, means coming face to face with the reality of injustice in our world. Being there and speaking with people who seem to survive on air alone brings up a tidal wave of emotions, out of which emerge countless questions, all of which can be summed up in one: “what can I do?”
In wading through my own questions, the beginning of an answer lies in learning about the root causes of poverty, and doing my best not to be complacent in a society that perpetuates such disparity. How will my behaviors and decisions change after getting to know people who are trapped under poverty’s thumb? Now that I’m back in Chestnut Hill, sitting in our CSON student lounge, I hope that the very visceral reactions I had when witnessing such suffering will not fade from my memory. I hope instead that these feelings will lead to my own growth in compassion, and I will continue to learn, throughout my life, about suffering from those who know it best—the poor.
My fellow students and I understand that in the grand scheme of things, we did little to lift out of poverty the five communities we visited, or wipe out the illnesses they suffer because of poverty. Our interventions focused on health education, treating whatever ailments we could, and identifying acute cases that needed immediate attention at our hosting hospital. We funded these hospital visits, and followed up with the patients together with a supportive network of Haitian friends and contacts. Regardless of how much our work could have positively affected another person’s life, I have more in common with all of the other visitors to Haiti than I do with any patient I saw. In the Port Au Prince airport, most of our group looked the same as the other non-Haitian travelers, who were on either business or mission trips. I hope that we entered, moved through, and left Haiti with enough grace to honor the hospitality we were given.
What I am sure about is how priceless that week is to me, and how it will inform the rest of my life, particularly in my role as an FNP. Rather than abstaining from something that I know is imperfect, I hope to do what I can to work towards universal health promotion. As nurses, we appreciate that healing is not only about outcomes; the power of communicating genuine concern with eye contact, touch, an attentive ear, cannot be overstated. These mutually transformative interactions, however short, are what make the immersion trip indispensable. By sitting and listening to people’s symptoms and stories, the things that bother them, and how they make a life for themselves and their families, we are challenged to play a part in resisting the apathy that contributes to structural inequity on a global level. Because of this, I hope to approach all of my patient visits as sacred.
It is undeniably clear to me that there are some people in the world who deserve our attention more than others. We already know that disease, natural disasters, and lack of infrastructure disproportionately burden the poor. A major part of being “inclusive,” as our group’s name promises, means being attentive to these inequities— some blatant, and some more nuanced. We must respond accordingly by focusing our energies on making the oppressed the protagonists in our shared story.
CSON and KILN encourage us to be lifelong learners and critical thinkers. Going to Haiti halfway through my last year in nursing school has firmly grounded my education in the conviction that truly caring for patients requires more than being up with the latest evidence, even more than earnest curiosity about my patient’s context. Caring requires an unconditional respect and concern for my patient simply because they are human.
In our personal and professional lives, I hope that we as CSON students (soon to be alumni/ae) can contribute to the transformation of exclusive, elitist, and unjust systems. We can choose for whom we work, whom we serve, how we interact with our patients, what professional groups we join. We have seen what personal and social suffering looks like. How will we respond?
By Hana Chung ’17
Attending the 34th Annual NSNA Midyear Career Planning Conference was the perfect opportunity for me to get my resume reviewed, prepare me for taking the NCLEX, and to reflect upon my career planning. As a senior, I have recognized the importance of networking. I valued having the opportunity to connect with established and successful nurses at this conference. The conference provided a space for me to create positive first impressions, enhance my interview skills, and continue to develop myself into a professional.
I attended the NCLEX Mini Review Course session, which outlined the NCLEX test plan and procedure. The session presented by Desiree Hensel, a former Associate Professor at the Indiana University School of Nursing, included a number of valuable test taking and success strategies. This gave me a chance to apply my knowledge by answering NCLEX-related questions and alternative format questions.
Throughout the conference, I was able to choose from a wide variety of workshops that provided useful information on the job search and networking. The workshops that stood out the most to me were “LinkedIn: A Professional Networking Tool” and “Guerilla Warfare: Marketing Yourself in a Competitive Market.” Katelyn Finnegan, an Editor of Imprint magazine and the Chair for the Image of Nursing Committee, taught me about how the internet and social media have completely changed not only the way we socialize, but how we search for and get hired for jobs. Learning how to effectively market myself and navigate the social media landscape were motivated me to enhance my LinkedIn page. The session helped me to understand how I can highlight my accomplishments for future employers.
Sheri Monsein, a Nurse Manager and Talent Acquisition at UCLA Health Sciences, led a workshop that provided information on cover letters, resumes, and scheduling job interviews. She shed light on some important statistics illustrating how the economic recession that has flooded the RN market. I was shocked to hear that the need for RNs has declined due to low hospital census resulting from lower elective surgeries/procedures, high unemployment, and high rates people without insurance. I first learned of this issue in my “Transitions” class at Boston College; this is when I realized that RN retention due to economic factors was a major problem and would impact my job prospects. Ms. Monsein went on to reassure us that the shortage of RNs would become critical once the economy improves and unemployment decreases. She made me feel confident that my degree would be favorable for employers hiring new graduates. My biggest takeaway from her lecture was that I am qualified and prepared for a very competitive job market if I utilize my resources.
Attending the NSNA Midyear Career Planning Conference motivated me to get my foot in the door. The experience was valuable; it provided me with the opportunity to make positive first impressions and connect with colleagues to help land my first job after graduation. Although I was initially discouraged hearing about the shortage of registered nurses, getting advice from other nurses and professors gave me confidence to persevere. Through my experience at the Midyear Conference, I am determined to keep my passion for nursing alive, take every opportunity to excel academically, and continue to develop my professional identity. Attending the conference inspired me to make the most of my job search by continuing to network with existing colleagues, and to cultivate new relationships to open the door for any new opportunities that await me.
On November 30, 2016, Loretta Sweet Jemmott, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, inspired students, alumni, faculty and guests with her Pinnacle lecture entitled:
“Being an Effective Nursing Leader: Building on Your Inner Strengths”
Dr. Sweet Jemmott is the Vice President for Health and Health Equity and a professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University. As one of the country’s foremost researchers in the field of HIV/AIDS, STD, and pregnancy prevention, Dr. Sweet
Jemmott is an expert in health promotion research and a nationally recognized leader in understanding and reducing risk-related behaviors. For many KILN students, the additional opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Sweet Jemmott and discuss their own journeys toward becoming effective leaders was a very memorable experience. KILN students shared their reflections on the day:
“Dr. Sweet Jemmott conveyed a sense of optimism and productive positivity. She reminded me that being an effective leader goes beyond typical definitions like timeliness, intelligence, and looking ahead to advance your career; more importantly, leadership requires perseverance and persistence. As she told us, ‘No never means no. No means maybe.’” – Minhyeung Kim (BS ’18)
“Dr. Sweet Jemmott always asks herself ‘So what?’ I have come to realize that the purpose of my endeavors should not be confined to my own personal gain. In every turn, I need to ask myself ‘how can I give back to the community?’ Once I graduate, I want to fight and advocate for a cause that stirs my heart.” – Esther Chung (BS ’17)
“Dr. Sweet Jemmott gave me a very positive outlook on my future. She encouraged us to experiment with our interests and never give up. Her story inspired me to think about the problems prevalent in my own community and consider how I might work toward positive change in rural Maine.” – Kathryn Davie (BS ’19)
“Dr. Sweet Jemmott overcame obstacles throughout her academic career by persistently pursuing her passions through hard work and ‘gumption.’ She was an incredibly engaging and inspiring speaker who reinforced the importance of taking charge of one’s own life, finding passion in one’s work, and never taking ‘no’ for an answer.” – Maggie Steinmann (MS ’18)
“Dr. Sweet Jemmott’s lecture made me reflect on my reasons for applying to graduate school. Her exuberance about her research made me realize that I want to embody certainty and passion about what I study…it is important that I connect my research to my story and relate it to my purpose.” – Chiamaka Okorie (BS ’17)
On November 18, 2016, performance artist Dominique Coley shared provocative film clips and original poetry that addressed the problem of discrimination based on skin color and sexual orientation. The event, planned by Helen Au (’18) of the KILN Leadership Council, sparked a great deal of reflection on the part of the participants:
“This presentation reinforced the importance of cultural and national awareness in light of the traumatic and controversial events that have happened this year. Despite the discomfort c
reated by Dominique’s stories of discrimination, we could sense the building self-awareness that results from open discussions. After attending this event, I felt called to remain positive and hopeful for those who feel weary or defeated.”
-Thien Bui (’17)
“Dominique’s presentation provided insight that I can utilize in both my personal and my professional life. Knowing the points of view of persons of other races, ethnicities, religions, g
enders, and sexual orientations will be critical to my ability to provide holistic, therapeutic care for all patients.”
-Lizzy Byrne (’17)
“Some of the images in Dominique’s presentation were unbelievable. It is disheartening to be reminded that our society is not as fair as I thought it was. Nonetheless, Dominique’s poetry assured me that I could be a part of the force against discrimination. In the near future, I will become an example of what a culturally literate nurse is and take little steps to bring about equality in the healthcare setting.”
-Christine Kang (’18)
“Hearing Dominique’s point of view was very enlightening. Coming from a community at home with little diversity, it is refreshing to hear new perspectives. I also know that this talk was very important for me because it will help me as a nurse to view everyone with respect no matter what their ideologies are and to know that I should be empathetic and inclusive towards my patients.”
-Megan Groome (’20)
The 2016-2017 KILN Leadership Council (KLC) serves as a group of seven undergraduate students in the School of Nursing to represent the students’ thoughts and concerns in the KILN community. Our main purpose is to help facilitate relationships between the faculty and the students, but also, to foster a closer community within the larger nursing class. This year, our main goal is to encourage active participation among students, provide more opportunities for developing relationships and networking, and work as liaisons with the KILN faculty and leaders.
– Hana Chung (’17)
In recognition of the value of student-designed projects that supplement curricular learning, Boston College awards Advanced Study Grants to promising undergraduate students. In the summer of 2016, two KILN juniors, Lanah Han and Lea Nelligan, submitted winning proposals. Lanah traveled to South Korea to complete her project, “Exploring Options for US Healthcare: Lessons to Be Learned from South Korea,” and Lea traveled to Ecuador to complete her project, “Care of the Whole Person: Medicine and Cultural Connection.” Lanah and Lea share their reflections below:
My firsthand experience in South Korea has allowed me to realize many things about the healthcare system and about myself. After seeing the success of universal healthcare implementation in South Korea, I believe that it is possible to improve healthcare across the world. I want to address health equity issues and contribute to improving healthcare access and quality for all.
I am interested in learning more about global health and finding out how other countries manage their healthcare system; however, I know that I will face unexpected challenges along the way, including language barriers. I even struggled with this in South Korea, my native country. Although I am relatively fluent in Korean, I had some difficulty understanding the medical terminology. Immediate change is impossible. However, I hope to slowly bring about change by shifting people’s perspectives on the healthcare system. I am very grateful to the faculty who guided me toward a successful Advanced Study Grant application and I recommend that others pursue the opportunity.
– Lanah Han
Traveling to a foreign country alone was a major step for me that will allow me to better serve the Spanish-speaking populations I work with after graduation.
My host mother in Quito, Ecuador, Gloria Ines, did not speak any English. I learned to use body language, gestures and expression in addition to language, and sometimes it was necessary to pull out a Spanish-English dictionary. In addition to language and cultural immersion, I realized my passion for mental health issues and saw the great need for resources in Latin America. This new direction has already led me to pursue jobs in the mental health field, and I have realized that social service resources for at-risk populations are scarce even in the US. Overall, going to Ecuador for Spanish immersion was so much more than language acquisition. The incredible level of independence I had helped me grow a leader, because I had to advocate for myself and learn how to work autonomously. I am truly grateful for this opportunity for personal and professional growth.
– Lea Nelligan
On September 18-20, KILN students and mentors attended the Sigma Theta Tau International Leadership Connection conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kathryn Free ’17 and Elizabeth (Lizzy) Byrne ’17 presented posters featuring research conducted with faculty mentors Stewart Bond and Judith Vessey. KILN director and mentor Catherine Read presented a podium session (co-authored by Debra Pino Betancourt) entitled “Preparing Nursing Students as Leaders for Social Change.”
Kathryn and Elizabeth offered their reflections on the experience:
Attending Sigma’s Leadership Connection Conference and presenting the work I have done as an Undergraduate Research Fellow was an incredible experience. It was my first nursing conference and the first time I presented this research. When I began the literature review last fall, I never imagined myself presenting it in front of individuals. As a research fellow, it was wonderful seeing my hard work come to fruition. The best part of the conference was connecting to nurses that were interested in and impacted by my work. I spoke to many oncology nurses who kept in touch with former patients. These nurses were interested in seeing if what I learned about frailty in older cancer survivors was similar to their knowledge.
The Sigma Conference warmly welcomed undergraduate nursing students. Everyone I met was eager to learn about my research presentation. As I continue my work as an undergraduate research fellow, I will always remember connecting with the oncology nurses that found great value in my research endeavors.
– Kathryn Free
I had the opportunity to present my research project entitled “The Technological Age: Parent Knowledge and Use of Social Media Apps.” In this project, which will also be the subject of my senior thesis, I will be analyzing parents’ knowledge and use of social media and how that affects their knowledge and perceptions of cyberbullying. I decided on this topic because of my work as an undergraduate research fellow and my years of working at an elementary school. Both of these settings prompted me to look deeper into the connection between parents’ use of social media and their knowledge of cyberbullying. The research data will be obtained via an electronic survey. Presenting this information at the conference helped me focus my research. I received feedback from other presenters and conference attendees that will aid in improving my survey, such as possible questions to include, the potentially wide range of parental age, and the limitation associated with an electronic survey because it will require basic technological skills.
In addition to further developing my own research, the conference allowed me to learn about evidenced-based research in many areas of nursing, including stethoscope hygiene, improving nursing collaboration, and postpartum depression rates in mothers in two different age groups. The variety of the topics was by far my favorite aspect of the conference. I felt like each poster was interesting and pertinent to my nursing education. By attending this conference, I feel as though I will be a better nurse as well as a better researcher. Additionally, I was also able to discuss graduate school with many of the attendees, which gave me a better sense of what I want to pursue after graduation this May. The majority of the attendees and presenters were full time nurses who had received masters or doctoral degrees; this made me acutely aware of what a great honor and privilege it is to be one of a limited number of undergraduates presenting at the conference.
– Elizabeth Byrne
The students and mentors are grateful for the funding from the Coca-Cola and Price Family Foundations that made this experience possible.