Campus News

A Nursing Student’s Perspective

By: Emma Rhodes-Armstrong

Unparalleled.” This is how SMCC President, Joe Cassidy, describes the nursing program here. It’s a beautiful morning at the South Portland campus as the nursing program holds their forum for all students and faculty to attend. This forum is held on the first week of every semester, each with its own theme and discussion points. Students from all cohorts and stages of the program mingle and meet. A table outside the auditorium advertises the Nursing Club, with t-shirts and flyers. The auditorium fills up quickly with a steady line of students and faculty, until all seats are filled. Laughter fills the room as Dr. Nozdrovicky, the department chairman, says that maybe next year the forum will have to be held in the gymnasium. Clearly, the program is growing. It is encouraging as a first-year student to see how many of us are in the same boat. I share brief exchanges with students from my own cohort and some I have never met. The subject for this semester’s forum is civility. It is clear why this particular topic is relevant in today’s age of internet arguments and political turmoil. Civility is not just for nurses and not limited to the scope of our practice. It has to be something we carry into every aspect of our lives. If we want to command respect as professionals, we must extend that same respect to the people we encounter without discrimination. “Civility is not a sign of weakness.” In large display on the projector screen, the words of John F. Kennedy serve as a striking reminder. Sometimes it is a radical and conscious decision that we must make, to remain civil in the face of challenging situations.

The skills we are learning here will carry into our everyday lives. I know already, even as a first-semester student, that the skills and approaches I learn here will change the way I interact with others, and I will grow in personal and professional ways as I rise to meet the challenges I encounter. Every person in that room made sacrifices to be there. There is no disputing the fact that without hard work, long hours and strong commitment, we would not be able to meet the demands of this program and the challenges of working in the medical world. But that is the beauty of pursuing a degree in a challenging field: everyone here is passionate about their work and driven to succeed. In a world where an increasing need for healthcare is creating nursing shortages, SMCC’s nursing program has consistently proven itself as a success.

Last year’s graduates from the Brunswick campus achieved a 100% pass rate on the NCLEX, the nursing licensure exam. But these factors are not necessarily what initially draws students here. As a young mother with a busy schedule and limited budget, SMCC felt like the right fit for me purely for logistical reasons. As I learned more about the program, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see the state-of- the-art nursing lab at the Brunswick campus, which includes lifelike mannequins on which students can practice their skills. The school’s clinical partnerships with local hospitals and other practices are varied and exciting.

The more I learn about the program, the more I feel sure that this will set me up for
success in a career in the fast-paced medical field. But for some, community colleges may still hold less appeal than traditional universities because of long-held stereotypes.
The successful graduates and students here at SMCC intend to change that view.

A couple months ago, we had the opportunity to speak to the graduating seniors from the Midcoast campus. They gave advice on managing workload and family responsibilities, and spoke on their experiences in the clinical setting. It was evident that they had formed close bonds with one another in the two years they spent here. Something
that one student said stuck with me. She said that the second semester was when
they started seeing themselves as nurses, and how that shift helped them take greater ownership of their learning and professional identity. If the success and testimony of those students is any indication, I expect the next two years will be intense, challenging,
rewarding, and ultimately, life-changing.

Categories: Campus News

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