Twenty-seven nursing students will cross the stage at Southeast Missouri State University’s fall commencement ceremony Dec. 15, marking the successful completion of an academic journey and the beginning of a lifetime career in patient care.
Southeast’s long tradition of preparing nursing graduates for outstanding placements in the health care industry is exemplified this weekend by six of those nursing graduates — Sarah Brouder of St. Peters, Missouri; Emily Daly of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Kayla Drew of House Springs, Missouri; Kristy Holland of Oran, Missouri; McKinzie Jones of Destin, Florida; and Allie Wallace of Jackson, Missouri, all of whom will receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
“Our pre-licensure BSN graduates are prepared to accept entry-level positions on any kind of unit. They are exceptionally well prepared for licensure and for practice when they graduate, and are highly valued by employers who interview them,” said Dr. Gloria Green, chair of Southeast’s Department of Nursing. “The December graduating class already has an employment rate of 92.6 percent.”
Green says 25 of the 27 graduates have already been hired, with one still considering two job offers and another waiting to seek employment until she relocates out of state. Among the graduates entering the local health care industry are Daly who has accepted a full-time day position in the Intensive Care Unit at SoutheastHEALTH and Holland who will begin working on the cardiac floor in the Progressive Care Unit at Saint Francis Medical Center, both in Cape Girardeau.
Several others are headed to positions in St. Louis and throughout the region, including Brouder, who has been hired on the cardiothoracic surgery Step Down floor at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, and Wallace, who will be starting her career as a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.
For Brouder, the transition to the workforce is bittersweet.
“I consider Southeast my home away from home, and I am sad to be leaving the place that has shaped me into the person I have become today,” Brouder said. “I chose Southeast because I felt so comfortable here. It is a perfect sized campus and has a highly-rated nursing program.”
Brouder will care for patients on a Cardiothoracic Surgery Step Down floor.
“I am looking forward to working on a progressive care floor and expanding my knowledge about the care of cardiac patients,” she said.
Wallace is also feeling the growing pains that come with graduation.
“I am so excited for the next chapter of my life and proud of my accomplishments at Southeast but also sad to be leaving my college days behind,” Wallace said. “I have made so many great memories and learned a lot of life lessons.”
Wallace always knew always she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field to help others.
“The thing that excites me most about being a nurse is that I get to care for so many different people and change lives for the better,” she said. “By being a nurse, I can impact many people in this way, whether it be saving a life or simply supporting a family.”
As a NICU nurse, she will be providing life-sustaining support to seriously ill and/or premature babies. Some of her duties will involve monitoring breathing, temperature, heart rates and sounds, feeding and administering medications. She will also support and educate the parents through the associated stresses.
“I am looking forward to watching babies I care for get bigger and healthier and eventually get to go home with their families,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to the opportunity to work and learn with some of the best doctors and nurses, and to work at a level 4 NICU, which means the hospital is capable of caring for the sickest infants.”
Daly has dreamt of being a nurse since she was a little girl.
“When I was a young girl, I suffered a traumatic brain injury which resulted in many hospital stays and medical conditions,” she said. “The nurses that cared for me were incredible and showed true compassion.”
Daly will be working in the Intensive Care Unit at SoutheastHEALTH, monitoring patients for changes in status or indications of conditions such as Sepsis or shock and instituting intervention.
“It gives me true joy to participate in the healing arts. Most importantly, I will be a patient advocate.”
She would like to continue her education and become a nurse practitioner.
“I plan to obtain my Master of Science in Nursing and become a nurse practitioner,” Daly said. “I am eager to continue my education in nursing and give back to the profession by teaching nurses like me when I have gained ample experience.”
Jones will be working as a nurse in a medical Step Down Unit at Methodist Le Bonheur Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The unit cares for a variety of patients from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the emergency room. Her duties will include close monitoring and care of these patients, who are considered stable but could experience an unexpected downturn at any moment.
She chose this position because of the learning opportunities it offers.
“On a medical floor you see more variety in patients as well as disease processes,” she said. “Many experienced nurses recommend starting on a floor like this so you can gain more experience. I will become proficient in my nursing skills while learning as much as I can.”
Jones says she loves the diverse opportunities available to nurses.
“There are an endless number of different positions and paths you can take within the career of nursing. Whether it’s nursing informatics, school nursing, nursing management, intensive care nursing or quality improvement for nursing, the options are endless,” she said. “I love the freedom this provides, and it makes me so eager to enter this career.”
Kayla Drew, who will be working on the Neurology floor at Missouri Baptist in St. Louis, is also excited about helping others and the continuing education she will receive on the job.
“A work day as a nurse is never the same as the last one, and I cannot wait to learn and experience new knowledge and skills that will make me a better nurse,” she said.
Drew’s duties will include caring for patients who may have suffered from a stroke, confusion or seizures.
Brouder, Daly, Wallace, Jones and Drew all credit the support and solid foundation Southeast’s nursing program provided, especially the experiences during clinical practice.
“When I look back on my first days of nursing school, I remember hearing medical terms that I had no idea what they meant, thinking, ‘there’s no way I’m going to make it through this,’ but my teachers have taught me more than I could have ever imagined,” Wallace said.
Jones said that her experiences as a student athlete as well as a nursing major helped her develop dedication, self-discipline and time management, qualities she finds important in nursing.
“Southeast’s nursing program is fantastic,” she said. “I could not be more thankful for my experiences at Southeast and how they have shaped me into the person I am today — a person who is excited, still eager to learn and ready to enter the working world.”