The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Nursing Stories

2020 internation year of the nurse

Sharing your Nursing Story is an important response to the pandemic and a way to recognize and honor the work of nurses during the World Health Organization's International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. We have asked UMass Amherst nurses to share brief stories about their nursing response, experience, and reflections, particularly during this time of COVID-19. These stories are important to our collective experience as they help us to preserve the history of the College of Nursing and to inform and inspire others. We invite you to share your own story here.  

Nicole Gauthier Croteau, Nursing Major '97, Shares COVID-19 Story

Date: 
May 27, 2020
          
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Nicole Gauthier Croteau, Nursing Major '97, shared these comments about nursing in the time of COVID-19:

"'Paula? I’m calling to tell you that we are limiting your visits to see your mom right now. Yes, limiting.' 

One week later: 'Paula? I’m calling to tell you that you can’t come see your mom. She’s not eating well. We can’t force her to eat. I know you know she’s on hospice. I’m so sorry.  We’ll figure out the virtual piece.'

One week later: 'Paula? I know she’s lived her for 5 years but you know, maybe you could take her home? She is wakeful at night but you could hire some private duty. You aren’t going to be able to see her and I know how terrible this is for all of you.'

Days later: 'Paula? We are emptying our facility to make a COVID recovery center in central MA. We found her another bed in one of our sister facilities. I’m so sorry. She’s still not eating.'  

Less than two weeks later I talked to Paula as she stood in the cold rain watching her mother die through the window in her new facility. 

This is simply one of the moments I have experienced. They seem countless tonight."

 

 

Parash Pijar, DNP '24, Shares COVID-19 Story

Date: 
May 27, 2020
      
                     

 

DNP Student Parash Pijar, RN Case Manager, shared these reflections about nursing in the time of COVID-19:

"As I sit here in my apartment without the glaring sounds of call bells and telephone calls, appreciating this moment of quiet, I realize how drastically things have changed around me. Not only for me, but for people I used to come across in a daily basis. I went from having to wait multiple minutes in order to have an opportunity to leave my apartment complex parking lot to just being able to go in a matter of moments. The hallway where my office is located at the hospital went from lively with chatter to quiet and abandoned. And the individuals who once expressed their personalities through their vibrant clothing and beautiful smiles are now confined in masks and anxiety. The current pandemic crisis has certainly lifted the blinders that bound me to my routine and has made me miss the presence of normality."

 

Meet Our Alumni: Liz Catherine Cory DNP '20

Date: 
May 24, 2020

 

                                    
                    

As part of our coverage of 2020 Nurses Month and the World Health Organization's 2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, we asked Liz Cory, DNP '20 to share her nursing story. 

What inspired you to become a nurse?

It sounds cliché, but nursing is my calling. My family and I emigrated to the United States when I was 16 years old. I worked as a medical secretary while in college for a private physician’s office, and his wife is a nurse. From that experience, I saw the caring relationship nurses bring that made the patients feel special. Every day I am reminded why I became a nurse—to be a catalyst for change.

What kind of work are you doing now?

 I am practicing as an Advanced Practice Nurse in New York City for the adult and geriatric population.

Please share any reflections or experiences about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your work.

I was in my last semester of completing my DNP Capstone project when an unexpected obstacle transpired as coronavirus hit NYC as if it was overnight last March. There was palpable anxiety from this invisible unknown and the uncertainty for our safety. Together with my team, I helped address acute health concerns and exacerbation of chronic conditions from both COVID and non-COVID patients; to help offset the surge in the Emergency Department. This pandemic magnified the disparities within this already vulnerable population, and telehealth helped in connecting with patients.  I serve as a mentor for new registered nurses through the American Nurses Association and a part of the awards committee for NY state.

Would you like to comment about your UMass Amherst nursing education? 

UMass Amherst’s online post master’s DNP program has been similar to in-campus experience. They utilize many web-based communication programs. As an accredited institution, they have faculty members who are exceptional and supportive to adult learners. A few students who are also living in different parts of the world take their courses, which is proof that they are literally “world-class.”

What are your hopes and plans for the future? 

I hope to inspire and motivate another ambitious nurse to conquer the limits of their thoughts and fears. I want to continue mentoring nurses and contribute to Nursing Science. 

Would you like to offer any advice for people who are considering a career in nursing? 

For those who are undecided, or considering Nursing: It is as fulfilling as one would allow it to be, and as a lifelong career, the opportunities are endless.  

 

 

Nursing Stories from the COVID-19 Front Line: Jordi Goss-Packard ABSN '18

Date: 
May 21, 2020
                                    
                        

Jordan "Jordi" Goss-Packard, Accelerated BS in Nursing '18, shared his experience and reflections about his work with COVID-19 patients:

"I recently floated for first time ever and it was to take care of COVID patients. Because these people have to be in negative pressure rooms, the door has to stay closed at all times. These patients receive very little contact with people, sometimes as little as 4 times a day for only a couple minutes. We are instructed to go in as little as possible because we have such limited personal protective equipment (PPE). The nurse is the only caregiver for the patient, so that means we do our job, all patient ADLs, draw labs, clean the room, and take out the trash.

I literally went home and cried after because of how miserable these people are. It feels like animals locked in cages. If the disease isn't making them feel miserable, then it is definitely the environment these people have to be in. Part of healing is having human to human contact which we can barely provide, because we have to keep limited contact to protect ourselves.”

 

Meet Our Alumni: Emily Amico '00

Date: 
May 21, 2020
                   
                                                                    

Emily (Davis) Amico RN, MSN received a BS in Nursing at UMass Amherst in 2000. As part of our 2020 Nurses Month and International Year of the Nurse coverage, Emily agreed to share her inspiring nursing story with us. She says, "Although I have been to many places and done so many different things, my roots are at UMass."

What nursing degree(s) did you earn at UMass Amherst/other schools? 

I received a BSN from UMass in the undergraduate program. Inspired by the faculty and staff at UMass, I did pursue my graduate degree while in California and graduated from UCLA with a MSN in Pediatric Nursing in 2005. It is my intention to go further in my education, once my kids are a little bit older, and have casually explored different options for PhD, DNP and post masters certificate programs.

What inspired you to become a nurse? 

When I was in 6th grade and again in 7th grade I was hospitalized, at Boston Children’s Hospital, for two acute infections. The commitment and compassion of the nurses that cared for me and the other patients (I happened to be on the oncology unit) inspired me to want to be a nurse. I became a pediatric oncology nurse in 2000, and later was a manager on the Leukemia & Lymphoma unit, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. 

What kind of work are you doing now? 

I most recently have been working in public health and also as a part time school nurse in the district my 3 kids go to school in. While also being active in our community in varying volunteer leadership roles. This year I was hired as the Public Health Nurse for the Town of Southborough and have been on the forefront of the Disease Investigation and Contact tracing in our communities. Along with advising on various committees within the town on Emergency Preparedness, immunization Clinic preparation and establishing phased reopening guidelines at the local level. 

Please share any reflections or experiences about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your work. 

As the Public Health Nurse doing Disease Investigation and Contact tracing I am interviewing COVID positive individuals and their close contacts. I educate and manage Isolation and Quarantine of these cases. Daily I am on numerous calls to educate myself on the latest advances and guidelines in regards to caring for those effected by this novel disease. Community health, as in most nursing positions, is about establishing relationships and educating those within our communities to provide the best health outcomes for all.

What are your hopes and plans for the future? 

I hope that I can continue to make a difference on the ground at the local level through educating and supporting individuals and families as they navigate the unknowns of COVID 19. I also hope to continue to advocate for the role of the nurse and the importance of the nurse in this fight. Just today I submitted my interest statement to be a part of the Public Health Nurse Advisory Committee  to the CTC. CTC is the Contact Tracing Collaborative Governor Baker initiated along with Partners in Health and has been in action since late April. (It is astonishing to me to learn that nurses have not been at the table on this so I hope I didn’t scare the recipient of my interest statement message. Contract tracing is what is being done and has been done by the Public Health Nurses in Massachusetts for as long as we’ve been around).

Would you like to offer any comments or advice for people who are considering a career in nursing? 

A career in Nursing is like no other career in the most amazing ways. The role of the nurse is varied which makes it great for so many different people. As a nurse you can really make a difference in improving the lives of others whether in direct patient interactions, the outcomes of population you work with, or the team you work on. I am so lucky/blessed to have found work I am passionate about and can grow with. My experience at UMass gave me the knowledge, confidence and experience I needed to launch a meaningful career and life.

 

Meet Our Alumni: Joanna Krawiecki '06

Date: 
May 4, 2020
                       
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Joanna Krawiecki received a BS in Nursing at UMass Amherst in 2006.  As part of our coverage of 2020 Nurses Month and the International Year of the Nurse, Joanna shares her inspiring story about her nursing response, experience and reflections during this time of COVID-19. 

After volunteering to be on Massachusetts General Hospital's (MGH) ICU Surge Team, I did not anticipate activation to take place so soon with starting this new assignment at the end of March. I have been part of this ICU-General Care nurse partnership for the past nearly two months and have been assigned to the Surgical Intensive Care unit (SICU), which was made into an adult COVID ICU. Having been a general care nurse for the past 13 and a half years with my last ICU experience during nursing school when I worked as a Critical Care Tech and had my senior practicum in the Trauma SICU, being back working in the critical care setting has been both intriguing and challenging. I have learned immensely while helping care for the sickest of the sick, drawing labs off arterial lines and titrating pressor meds under direction of the ICU nurse. Most ICU nurses have been great to work with and appreciative of the help from general care nurses. Fortunately, I have felt safe working in an established ICU rather than be deployed to one of the makeshift ICUs. I have not personally experienced a shortage of PPE and have felt protected.

There have been good and bad days. My worst day was when one of my patients kept coding and I performed chest compressions for the first time in my nursing career that was not on a mannequin during BLS recertification. He arrested in the field and found down for a while.  By the time he was brought to the ER, he had no brain activity. I do not have a lot of experience with death and dying. This patient was transitioned to comfort measures only (CMO) the same evening since the doses of the critical care medicines he was on were so high that it was not sustainable with life. I was able to see his family say their emotional goodbyes via FaceTime video before he passed the following morning. That was a very grim shift for me and I was glad to be off for a few days to decompress.

Like cancer, COVID does not care how old you are, how healthy you are, or how sick you are. After witnessing otherwise healthy adults who have both beaten and succumbed to this horrible virus, there is much to still learn about how it attacks the body and what treatments are effective. On a happier note, at least three patients were discharged from the SICU today- stayed successfully extubated and free from COVID. We are seeing the curve flatten out and I hope I will be returning to my home unit very soon.  While I have learned critical care nursing is not going to be my next career move, I am grateful for the ICU Surge Team experience regardless of how exhausting it has been. I have a new appreciation for a patient's trajectory of care going full circle from the critical care setting to the general care setting.