practical nursing

Associate Professor of Nursing Collene Thaxton briefs practical nursing students following the completion of disaster training at MWCC's Devens campus.

Associate Professor of Nursing Collene Thaxton briefs practical nursing students following the completion of disaster training at MWCC’s Devens campus. The mannequin was one of five requiring treatment in a tornado simulation that also included two participating MWCC professors.

After months of preparation, teams of Mount Wachusett Community College practical nursing students tended to hospital “patients” further injured as a result of a simulated tornado.

The Nov. 7 disaster simulation at MWCC’s Devens campus included five lifelike mannequins and two professors with varying afflictions, debris strewn across the floor, and tornado sound effects. Impending graduates applied skills gained through nearly two years of nursing coursework, as well as a lecture on emergency response and public health issues by Judy O’Donnell of Wachusett Medical Corps.

“We need to get students ready for disaster situations. This is the culmination of what has gone on since January,” said Associate Professor of Nursing Collene Thaxton, who led two separate simulations, each consisting of a rescue and triage team. “We really stress the importance of communication in disasters because you never know what to expect.”

With 15 minutes to complete the simulation, student rescue teams diagnosed and provided preliminary treatment to patients based on the severity of their injuries. Rescue teams then transported patients by stretcher to nearby triage teams for further treatment, including CPR, blood work and the dressing of wounds.

“I was nervous at first, but once I started, I got into nursing mode,” said Ari-Ann Ashley, a member of the first rescue team. “I feel that now I have an idea of what to do if something like this actually happened in the real world.”

“My mind was racing, but I tried to keep it together and figure out who to triage first,” said Isabelle Mascary, a member of the second triage team. “I think this helps students because it puts us in a situation we haven’t been in before, and we can figure out what went wrong and what we can do better.”

Additional nursing students participated in disaster simulations on Nov. 14.

Practical Nursing Class of 2012

Friends, relatives and members of the college community gathered December 17 to welcome 46 graduates of MWCC’s Practical Nursing program into the nursing profession during a traditional pinning ceremony.

Each graduate, dressed in a traditional nurse uniform, was welcomed into the profession by having a nursing pin fastened to her or his lapel by a fellow nurse – a family member, friend or faculty member. MWCC’s eight-star pin is imprinted with the words “Service to Humanity and the World” with the nursing symbol in the middle. The pin symbolizes the medal of excellence Florence Nightingale presented to the women who nursed the wounded soldiers of the Crimean War.

The ceremony also included the traditional recitation of the Florence Nightingale Pledge and lighting of a candle as a symbol of the care and devotion nurses administer to the ill and injured.

Julie Ireland, director of nursing and the clinical coordinator at the Heywood Hospital Transitional Care Unit, was the guest speaker. The mother of four is also a volunteer with Forward in Health, a Gardner-based nonprofit organization that provides medical service to residents at its clinic in Haiti. She encouraged the graduates to reflect on their experiences as students, continue to provide compassionate care to their patients, become active listeners in their patient care, and continue to seek professional and career development.

Robert LaBonte, vice president of finance and administration, provided a welcome message and congratulations from the college. The hard-working nursing students, he said, can often be found throughout campus quizzing and tutoring each other. “Most importantly, they care deeply for others and are devoting their careers to helping others.”

Associate Professor Kathleen Panagiotes spoke on the significance of the pinning ceremony and other traditions. Class representative and pinning committee member Kara Costa and David Ishola, also a member of the pinning committee, delivered student addresses.

“As a member of the class of 2012, we have a challenge to stay abreast of technology, avoid complacency and be in the forefront of breakthrough innovations in healthcare,” Ishola said. “We must never forget to ask ourselves what it is we can do or change to be a better nurse than we were the day before.”

“Being a nurse is not about just passing medication and charting,” Costa said. “It’s about being able to care for patients when they are at their worst moments and making a difference in their lives. No one can make you a nurse – you just are. We are all here for the same reason today. We are here to celebrate a spirit of compassion toward man that only a nurse knows.”

Katrina Seguin led the traditional candle lighting, which dates back to Florence Nightingale, and Emily Osgood led the recitation of the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

As part of the rigorous academic program, the students train with professionals at more than 30 clinical sites in the region that partner with the college.

PN Pinning Ceremony

December 12, 2012

A Practical Nurse Pinning Ceremony will take place Monday, Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center. During the ceremony, each graduate, dressed in a traditional nurse uniform, will be welcomed into the profession by having a nursing pin fastened to her/his lapel by a fellow nurse, a family member, friend or faculty member.