The End of the Beginning: First Co-op Reflections

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On June 30th, I said a sad goodbye to my first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Cardiology Clinic. I will miss the amazing team there, not to mention the kids who truly made it all worthwhile. I have taken away so much from this co-op, but here are the main things that I have learned that are truly applicable to any co-op in any field.

1.       I have developed my communication skills. The clinic is truly a team environment that depends on information sharing and full communication when something goes wrong. Many patients see multiple providers in one day, and many see other departments within the hospital as well. In my role, I have to be able to effectively communicate any concerns or questions as soon as possible, since I am usually the first person to see the patient. Over these six months I have grown comfortable speaking with all providers up to and including physicians about patients and their needs. The importance of this was proven to me when I noticed a baby was losing oxygen in his blood to 60% and below in my care. If I hadn’t said anything to the nurse, that patient could have been in a dangerous situation. But because I escalated my concern, the baby got better care and was eventually admitted. At the beginning of co-op, I would have been nervous to approach the nurse, especially in our busier times. But now I am confident enough to approach the team about various issues. In the workplace, if you see something, say something: it will benefit the team and show your knowledge.

2.       My time management has also improved. I know which providers take longer in appointments and who likes to have their patients ready quickly. As a result, I am able to quickly make decisions about who to put in rooms vs. who to leave in the waiting area, or which patient I should get vital signs on first. I know this skill is even more valuable on an inpatient unit, so I am glad to have gained it early on. Understanding the “flow” of tasks given to you and successfully completing them on time is crucial. It also means you might have extra time to understand what you are doing as opposed to rushing through tasks so quickly that you don’t gain any knowledge.

3.       I have learned so much about the decision making skills a nurse needs. They need to be able to synthesize information from so many different sources and present their findings to other providers in an accessible way. Since I have not been on clinical yet, I have less experience with gathering information pertinent to nursing, like a patient history. I know that much of this knowledge will come from clinical and my classwork, but some will also come from observing the nurses on the job. I feel more empowered to ask them questions about how they arrived at a certain conclusion now that I am farther along in my nursing education.

4.       I have also gained knowledge about the importance of nursing research. At BCH almost all of the nurses are involved in research projects run by either the hospital or individual clinicians. I find this work fascinating and I am hoping to get involved myself when I become a nurse. To improve my skills in this area I will be looking for more opportunities through Bouve to get involved in projects.

I will truly miss this co-op and I can’t believe it went by so fast! Your first co-op is so important to your overall learning experience: make sure to listen, take it all in, and make a name for yourself! It’s never too early to make a great impression.

Julia Thompson is a third year Nursing major in the Bouve College of Health Sciences. She works as a nursing assistant at South Shore Hospital and just completed her first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is the secretary of the Northeastern University Student Nurses’ Association and is also involved with Bouve Fellows. Feel free to contact her at with any questions. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.

Bucket List for the Summer

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The life of a student revolves around semesters of deadlines, classes, credits and prepping for exams. Almost as fast as it began it ends and spring finally arrives! Temperatures begin to rise with flowers appearing. That’s right, summer is here! There is no better time for students to just take some time off to sit back and ponder: goals vs classes, dreams vs ground-realities and plans vs the deviation from plans.

The summer break is vastly underrated because many consider it to be yet another long undeserved vacation showered upon students. More often than not, people don’t realize that students tend to get dragged into a monotonous chain of events that tends to dry out their sense of creativity, instincts and spark! The summer recess is a pertinent opportunity for them to explore areas that are of their interest which may or may not align with their curricular requirements. These areas of interest can not only be tapped but also nurtured to realize and accomplish long-term personal and career objectives.

In order to make the most of the summer, here are some of the areas that students can work on to understand, learn and enhance their personalities.

1. Travel to unravel: take that much needed vacation that you’ve been wanting to go to since the start of the semester. From beaches and boats to mountains and bike trails, whatever it is that gives you the freedom to experience the sights and sounds of a new destination, go for it! There is no better way of not just learning about new cultures but also about yourself, than to travel. From going solo to joining a tour, the experiences of meeting new people and making new friends has a profound impact on perceiving the environment around you. This can guide you to take informed decisions and insightful evaluations about the courses you want take or even the profession you want to choose going forward.
2. Create or clean up your social media presence: the gamut of social media platforms around us makes it mandatory for one and all to create a sense of a ‘larger than life’ perception of who we are. This is great, but only to a certain extent! Many-a-time, we end up posting, tagging, liking, commenting, sharing and tweeting about issues that may have polarizing opinions. Such factors though seem minor, tend to snowball into major roadblocks in the larger scheme of things. From applying to colleges to applying to jobs, your social media presence is scanned and combed out by admissions officials and HR managers. Your personality is evaluated on the basis of your virtual footprints. So, use the summer as a golden opportunity to either create your LinkedIn profile and increase your professional network or clean up by clearing out those random posts on social media. Remember, if there is even a second guess or thought about it. Take it down!
3. Strum that guitar: nothing soothes the mind and body like music. There’s a little bit of a musician in all of us. So why not give yourself the opportunity to explore your musical side. By nurturing a hobby like music, students expand their skill set beyond the usual suspects of being proficient at software tools or sports. Music adds a multi-dimensional facet to the student’s personality. Also, music has a universal appeal, so you could be foreign to a place but your music won’t!
4. Work on back-end tasks: this is a rather vast and vague area of things. It’s basically clearing out everything that you’ve had on your to-do list for the longest of time. Items on this list were sent here because of your procrastination and your sheer commitment to other more important tasks. But, this your time to clean up everything that you’ve been sweeping off under the carpet. From cleaning your room to researching about that college you’ve been aspiring to go to. It could even be taking that gym class you’ve been postponing or helping your folks by contributing to home-related work. Your future self will thank you!
5. Get a job: intern, volunteer or even join the family business. There is no better way to spend the summer than by taking up a job. It may be a small part-time job or even a credit based 40 hours a week co-op at a big multi-national. The learning and experience that students gather in the industry environment is unequaled. This contributes significantly when you’re building your resume. When you have work experience to go along with your high school degree, you stand a greater chance of getting into that college or organization of your choice. This gives students an exposure of the industry environment and gives them an opportunity to connect classroom knowledge with real work experiences.

There’s so much that students can do in such a short yet significant span of time. Summer brings with it a break from the routine and gives students the independence to work on those things that will give them satisfaction, both academically and personally. So which of these are you planning on doing this summer? It’s not too late to start now!

A New Home – Never Lose Hope

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“If I can do it what is stopping you”?

I felt an unexpected cold strike my entire body when it was time to depart from my beloved country of the Dominican Republic, an island so tiny, but immense in my heart and memories. Maybe it was my defensive mentality as a 14 year-old that made me believe the lie that I was going on a nice vacation looking forward to coming back home someday soon.

However, destiny made me realize that the meaning of home would change in a matter of seconds when that airplane reached its destination that many called “the land of freedom”. When we landed my mind was full of pessimist ideas that would not let me see the positive view of coming to this country. For starters, it made me feel like a traitor leaving my family behind after all these years that they have been taking care of me. Further, that everything that was said sounded simply too good to be true. Arriving into the promise land where all your dreams could become a reality without knowing the truth of how much suffering goes into accomplishing them. Furthermore, I still have tremendous weight on my shoulders. It started at a very young age because I was trying to make my family proud but also to fulfill my own internal drive. That drive and hunger to surpass any goal that people expected from me to make my family proud.

Now looking back at my progression in since arriving in this country I feel so proud to represent the positive impact immigrants can bring when they come to this country with good intentions. Many other people might bend but you cannot break. You have to fight for what you believe in to accomplish your dreams and to reach your full potential.

If a pretty regular guy like me made it, what’s holding you back? Go fight for your dreams don’t let anyone stop you from it. Have courage to reach for the moon so you end up among the stars. Put all your focus on achieving that goal, degree, or anything extraordinary in your life because if I could do it, you can do it too! Have courage and just believe in yourself.

Guest Blogger: Enmanuel Moya, Torch Scholar Student.