nursing student experiences

Jen Kiluk, Student Nurse: A Real-Life Final Exam

When first-semester Goodwin College Nursing student Jenn Kiluk arrived to pick her young son up at his school in December 2018, little did she dream that she was about to experience what she now refers to as a “real-life final exam.” Coming up on the school, she noticed some commotion ahead and saw the school’s 86-year-old crossing guard lying on the ground. Apparently, he had lost his footing on the uneven pavement and fallen backwards onto the sidewalk.

Jenn rushed to his side to assess the extent of his injuries. Realizing that he was bleeding from the back of his head, she used his Yankees baseball cap to apply pressure to the wound. While the grandparent of another student called 911, Jenn enlisted two students to run to the school, notify the school nurse, and bring back paper towels from the bathroom as the blood was starting to seep through the crossing guard’s cap.

As they waited for paramedics to arrive, Jenn recalls: “The gentleman was very concerned that he might have to go to the hospital. I did a pain assessment and felt his pulse, which was fairly weak. I kept him calm and asked him a series of questions to determine that he was alert and oriented to time, place, and people.”

The school nurse joined them, bringing a supply of gauze and an ice pack. Jenn continued to find out more about the crossing guard — his age, his cardiac history, and the passing of his wife the year before.

When the paramedics arrived, Jenn also learned that he was on a regimen of blood thinners. The paramedics said they were taking him to the hospital.

“The poor man started to tear up, and I tried to reassure him that we just wanted him to get a complete check-up and make sure he was not injured anyplace else,” Jenn says.

“I was surprised at how calm I was able to remain,” she adds.

Jenn’s journey to Goodwin College Nursing program followed a somewhat roundabout route that started as a medical laboratory technician as well as a marine biologist at The Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration. What she was seeking was a deeper level of patient contact. “In my clinicals now, I really get to know the people I care for,” she says. “Whether it’s noticing the photos around their rooms, observing a subtle change in daily habits, or even learning what their favorite sports teams are, there are ways to discover what is important to these individuals before they become your patients. It’s important to know what’s happening with them beyond what’s written on their charts.”

Jenn’s thoughts reflect the overall philosophy of Goodwin’s Nursing school. “The technical skills of nursing are critically important in the delivery of safe and effective care,” comments Janice Watts, Goodwin College Nursing Department Chair, “However, in our programs, we stress the value of and need to provide care that is compassionate and grounded in the importance of addressing the holistic needs of the individuals to whom we provide care.”

Click here to learn more about Goodwin College’s associate degree in Nursing.