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We couldn’t be more proud of our VCU School of Nursing alumni who are working all over the world to keep our community and families safe and healthy. Meet Virginia “Ginna” Slattum (B.S. ‘18/N), who works as a registered nurse at VCU Health in the acute care medicine unit. 

Q. How has your VCU School of Nursing education prepared you for your work as a nurse, particularly in situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic?

A. VCU’s SON provided me the toolkit to handle the clinical changes I encounter daily, including this pandemic. Some of the ‘tools’ I am grateful that VCU SON passed on to me are:

  • Critical thinking: as a nurse, my critical thinking is the most important skill I can bring to the bedside when caring for patients and collaborating with interprofessional teams, especially in uncertain times like these when recommendations change very fast. The VCU School of Nursing helped me develop the skills I need to critically think and provide high quality care during times of uncertainty.
  • Interprofessionalism: working with others is an essential part of being a nurse. This includes all roles that interact with patients, from environmental services to clinical providers. It is important to collaborate within all of these different areas of care to provide the best patient care. Please take time to recognize each role for the essential work they do because we cannot provide adequate care without the full team!
  • Keeping calm in a crisis: While it is important to act fast in times of crisis (be it a pandemic like this or a patient’s clinical presentation), it is important to do it in a way that continues to allow you to care for patients. The panic that often couples with rapid change and uncertainty undermines my ability to care for patients to the best of my ability. VCU SON helped me prepare for a sound mind in times of change through its Code SIMS, case studies, and practicums
  • Striving for excellence: VCU SON’s focus on EBP in its education helps ensure that I perform the best, high quality, and evidence-based care possible. During times of uncertainty, I have the skills to help decipher evidence-based recommendations from misinformation as to best support the knowledge of my patients, staff, family, and friends during times such as these.
  • Yes, this situation is unprecedented and there is no true way to be prepared for the unknown, however the skills I gained through school help me cope, change, and self-care during these times as a nurse. 

Q. What do you enjoy most about being a nurse?

A. I most enjoy the connection we can make with patients. Nurses have a unique ability to connect with patients through length of time spent with patients, the focus on patients as whole, and the role as a patient advocate. I cannot be more grateful for the patients that remind me why I go to work each shift.

Q. Can you share any words of encouragement or advice to current and future nurses?

A. For all of us nurses, if you are a student, registered nurse, or other level of licensure, we will get through this together! Our profession is one of strength, courage, advocacy, interprofessionalism, and resilience. We are known to overcome the odds that set against us, as can be seen from Florence Nightingale to the many other nurses that have faced great odds to care for our patients and community members. Two areas of advice I would like to share as we continue to go through this crisis are:

  • Advocacy: Remember why you became a nurse. Remind yourself of that interaction that showed you your passion for patient care through the many roles a nurse holds. It is easy to become absorbed with the day-to-day changes, uncertainty, and bad news inside and outside of patient care that cycle during  times of turbulence. When I start to get wrapped up in this cycle, I take a step back and remember the patients I’ve been honored to care for and why I continue to go to my job each day.
  • Care for yourself: To be the best patient advocate you have to have a full cup to give from. Self care is essential to being resilient during times like these. Make sure to put your personal health first through proper use of PPE, social distancing, hand hygiene, and educating others so that you are able to keep caring for those in need. Also, make sure to take time for yourself and do something you enjoy so that, when you are called to care in a crisis like this, you can arrive full, healthy, and with a sound mind to help.
    #MomentsOfPride #VCUSONAlumni
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