For almost 20 years, nursing students have taken part in the Student Nurse Intern program of the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, becoming part of a professional medical team at Lenox Hill Hospital—a 652-bed, acute-care facility on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Sandra Louis, a 2009 Hillman scholar, is pursuing her third career change as a student in BMCC’s Nursing Department, which is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, and registered by the New York State Education Department.
“I’m a nursing student—we just eat, sleep and study,” says Louis. This semester, she’ll earn an Associate in Applied Science degree, and be eligible to sit for the New York State Licensure Examination for Registered Nurse.
“I’m not quite certain what my special area of nursing will be,” says Louis, “but we’re being educated on pediatrics, geriatrics, surgical care, psychiatry, obstetrics, maternal care—we’re getting a broad-based nursing education.”
Theory meets emergency care
“As a Hillman scholar,” says Louis, “I worked in the emergency department, so I was able to interface with patients coming in with all sorts of emergency conditions. I was able to see patients with lacerations; I learned about cardiac care and a whole list of different disease states. It was eight weeks of working side-by-side with nurses, three days a week, 12 hours a day—and every single day was different.”
Out of 400 Hillman scholarship applicants, only 25 are chosen. “I was one of the lucky ones to have the experience of working with registered nurses, nurse practitioners, medical doctors, physicians’ assistants and nurses’ aides,” says Louis.
Career paths take many turns
“Nursing is going to be my third career,” Louis says. She started in hospital administration, smoothing patients’ transition from admission to surgery to discharge. Then, she worked to allocate funds for HIV and AIDS treatment centers.
At Lenox Hill Hospital, Louis realized her strongest interest lies in direct care, and saw technology’s impact on patients. “There are more diagnostic tools,” says Louis. “Results are generated faster, and interventions that are evidence-based are producing positive results for people. A patient comes in with loss of consciousness—they can run them straight to a cat scan, and you can see the brain activity, abnormalities of the brain, and know what course of action to take. I think people are living longer, with fewer detriments to the disease state they’re coming into the emergency room with.”
In addition, Louis worked with electronic medical records. “I was able to enter vital signs of patients, read their past medical history and current treatment plan, and get a holistic view of the patient that gets treated and released or admitted to a floor for extensive medical care—electronically. Very little is on paper.”
She advises anyone wanting to major in nursing, to start at BMCC, not just for the opportunity to be a Hillman scholar, but for the academic experience. “BMCC offers a 2-year program that will give you the tools and confidence you need to work in the hospital setting, home-care setting—any setting where there are nursing needs,” she says.