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KALÉI KOWALCHIK 

My engagement experience occurred under the guidance of Michael Evans Ph.D., M.S.Ed., RN, ACNS, CMSRN, CNE, Assistant Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Clinical Professor of Nursing at Penn State Worthington Scranton, during his shifts with Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) Home Health and Hospice of Lackawanna County. Every other weekend, we would provide care to patients and their families throughout Lackawanna County and surrounding communities. During this time, I was able to assist with vital sign measurements, physical assessments and nursing interventions (IV management, foley catheter insertion and care, wound care, etc.), along with providing emotional support to patients and caregivers in the home health and hospice environment. This experience with Dr. Evans has also instilled the importance of student / faculty mentoring in regards to success in the nursing field. Overall, this engagement experience has positively affected my academic and professional career by broadening and diversifying my studies as a student nurse.

As an incoming sophomore to the nursing program at Penn State, this experience has allowed me to better understand overall concept of the nurse role to a patient and their family as well as the importance of faculty mentoring in a student’s academic and professional career. With the help of the Student Engagement and grant program, I was able to focus less on my part-time jobs and devote more of my time providing care with Dr. Evans to better my future in the nursing field. Not only did this positively impact my academic and clinical skills, but it also allowed me to better my communication skills between patients, other nurses, and doctors. This experience has helped to socialize me to my future professional role as a nurse and has helped prepare me to feel confident and willing to learn throughout my academic and clinical endeavors within the next few years as a nursing student.

Within the freshman year of nursing school, one is mostly devoted to taking general education requirements with no formal clinical involvement. This engagement experience has only solidified my understanding of the “building block” concepts learned throughout my first two semesters at Penn State. Throughout the summer, I have been able to work on my communication skills between patients and other individuals within the medical community. I have been able to correlate and better understand diseases and disorders I see within the internship to what I have learned throughout my first year. With the help of sociology and human development and family studies classes, I was also able to view the patient holistically beyond their illness to provide proper care. Also, beginning research throughout my freshman year has helped me to properly collect data for Dr. Evans’ research on end-of-life care with advanced heart failure patients.

The hidden beauty within the nursing field is that you learn something new every day. As an incoming sophomore, there’s still a lot that I have to learn and practice; however, being able to participate in this clinical experience has bettered my professional development and solidified my academic thoughts in regards to graduate-level education. Having Dr. Evans as a mentor throughout this engagement experience has allowed me to appreciate the importance of having a mentor throughout this journey. He has inspired me to set academic and career goals as a student to become a well-rounded and exceptional nurse like him. With the help of Dr. Evans, I have improved my critical thinking skills, clinical skills, clinical judgment skills, communication skills, and physical and mental endurance, all things that are better understood outside of a textbook. Dr. Evans has motivated my goal to continue my academic ambitions and pursue a graduate-level degree as well as to give back and aspire to be another individual’s mentor within the nursing profession one day.