Preceptorship is an opportunity that must not be underestimated. As a nurse, one of our professional obligations is shepherding the next generation of nurses through their clinical training. It is an opportunity to model the heights of our profession, but it often dissolves into a much different experience for the students. As a school nurse and clinical faculty at Rutgers University-Camden, I have a great appreciation for preceptors and the importance of the student experience.
This month, I have had the privilege of precepting a senior undergraduate nursing student who is completing her community health rotation in my school health office. It is an opportunity to share the importance of public health nursing through community connections. My student, Abigail Monteleone (Abby), is an example of the best and brightest of the future of nursing. She is curious, self-motivated and eager to learn.
Abby is my guest blogger this week, sharing her experiences in and out of the school health office. Preceptors have a critical role in providing a safe and welcoming space for nursing students to apply the knowledge they have gained in the classroom in a clinical setting. School nurses can serve as an important link to the community for nursing students to experience the impact of school health services in their training. Never underestimate the impact that one clinical experience can make on a future nurse.
My name is Abigail Monteleone and I am currently a senior in the nursing program at Rutgers University-Camden. In my last semester, we are taking a Community class with a clinical specifically focused on the city of Camden, NJ. For the first half of my clinical experience I was placed at one of Robin’s preschools. Even though it has only been two weeks so far, I have already had so many great experiences that have made me think about the difference I want to make as a nurse, including the one I will be talking about in this post. I am aspiring to work in the mental health field, but because of this semester I hope to make a difference in my community as well.
On Thursday, February 14th Robin and I had the chance to meet Scott Charles, director of Temple University Hospital’s Cradle to Grave Program. The Cradle to Grave Program is a hospital-based prevention program that educates students about the realities of gun violence. During the program, the students spend 2 hours following the last 15 minutes of a young boy’s life. The students can relate to Lamont Adams, a 16-year-old boy from Philadelphia who died tragically due to gun violence. Students are shown the treatments used to save patients, taught more about inner-city gun violence, and shown imagery that displays injuries inflicted by firearms. Lastly, they are brought to the morgue just as Lamont was after his death. The students are then given the opportunity to list the names of people in their life who would miss them if they were to suffer a fate similar to Lamont. The program began in 2006 and has taught over 1,000 children yearly about the impact of gun violence. The thing that makes this program special is how this experience can act as a simulation of the injuries, both physical and emotional, that occur with gun violence. To students, this program can act as a “teachable moment” that can be compared to feelings that occur in actual trauma patients, which they will carry with them going forward.
Robin, Scott, and I went to Charles Brimm Medical Arts High School in Camden, New Jersey, where we visited Christian Moreno and Nytasia Braxton, the students who painted the desks for the “No More Empty Desks” campaign. We also met their art teacher, Lisa Wallenburg. Hearing the students discuss their artwork and the reasons behind their different artistic decisions made me realize how important it is to let them speak for themselves about issues that impact them. Moreno discussed the quote that he painted on the back of the desk chair: “I saved a seat for you”. He said that the purpose of this quote is to show that instead of going out onto the streets and turning to violence, you can make the choice to go down a more positive path, stay in school, and work hard there. The seat has been saved for someone to turn their life around. This movement shows that these two students have a voice and that their voice is valuable. I hope that this project shows other adults that we cannot truly know how students feel until we speak with them. We really can learn a lot from the children of this generation. Taking their thoughts, opinions, and feelings into account can really help us shape the country and the world for the better.
This meeting really had me thinking about the terror and heartbreak that gun violence causes and that, in the end, it is preventable. Scott Charles left us with the valuable gift of gun locks so that they could be given out in Camden and the surrounding community. With these locks, parents can lock up their firearms, preventing their children access to the weapons. With just a simple lock, lives can be saved.
You can learn more about the Cradle to Grave Program here: https://www.cradletograveprogram.com/