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Student Success Stories - Samantha Phyllis Paradis

Hometown: Frenchville, ME
Majors: Nursing, December 2012; Psychology, May 2012

You were a student nurse summer extern at the Mayo Clinic. How did you get connected with the clinic?
In July 2011 I was awarded the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Janssen Scholarship, which paid for a trip to the association’s annual conference in October 2011. At the opening ceremony I had the good fortune to sit next to one of the other scholars, Miranda, who had just graduated and had started working as a registered nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She had also participated in the Summer III nursing extern program the year before. I had heard about the program but never thought I would be selected because it is quite competitive — 1,000 apply for 100 spots. During the course of the conference I became close to the other scholar and even met some of her coworkers. By the end of the week she had convinced me to at least apply.

In February 2012 I was selected for the Summer III program and Miranda was able to advocate for me to be placed on her unit. For 10 weeks this past summer I worked one-on-one with Miranda as a mentor on the Psychiatric Mood Disorders Unit at the Mayo Clinic.

What were your responsibilities?
The externship provides students with the opportunity to work one-on-one with an RN clinical coach, attend educational classes, observe in other clinical areas and volunteer in the community. During a shift I would help my nurse complete the patient assessment, learn about the medications being administered and attend the unit cognitive behavioral therapy class among many other things. Because of state nursing practice laws, students are unable to pass medications or chart the nursing assessment. I was able to attend educational classes on evidence-based practice, emergency nursing and flight nursing — I even got to go to the helipad. I also observed in all of the other psychiatric units and the hyperbaric medicine program.

Throughout the summer I organized and coordinated a hospital wide blood drive competition between the Summer IIIs and their clinical coaches. A total of 34 units of blood were donated, which helped 114 patients. I also volunteered with other Summer
IIIs to cook dinner for the families at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester one night.

What kind of unexpected or challenging situations did you encounter?
At the end of the summer I was asked to speak at the Summer III farewell dinner with my clinical coach because of our story about how we met and organizing the blood drive. I think both preparing and doing the actually speech were both challenging.

What other hands-on or real-world experience have you gained through your course work?
This semester I am doing my community nursing clinical at an HIV and STD clinic that provides medical care to marginalized patients living in the community. I am doing my senior nursing partnership on a cardiothoracic surgery unit at Maine Medical
Center in Portland. Although both experiences are vastly different they have both helped me to gain the experience that I find necessary to be a competent nurse.

At the HIV clinic I work with a nurse partner to provide primary care to people living with HIV at no charge. I also help coordinate the health care team during the STD testing clinic. During one of my first shifts I noticed that the nurses were using an intramuscular injection site that I was taught was not evidence-based practice. I voiced my concern, provided the research and the nurses asked me to give an inservice on the topic. I was thrilled that I was able to help change practice. My experience at the clinic has helped me realize that I will always strive to give back through volunteering to help people in need.

My clinical partnership on the cardiothoracic unit is fostering my transition from a student nurse to a professional nurse. At the beginning of the experience I was only taking one or two patients and finding myself task-oriented. Now as I am entering the end of the experience I feel that I am grasping the big picture of patient care. I am taking on the full patient load and still finding time to interact with my patients and families.

How might your real-world experiences influence your future plans?
My community clinical has sparked my interest in providing medical care to underserved populations. The senior partnership has solidified my goal of working as an RN for a couple years before returning to graduate school to further my education.

What are your future plans?
After graduation I plan on traveling to Panama with International Service Learning to complete a hike for humanity trip. This two-week program provided medical care to remote villages after hiking in the jungle for 2–3 days at a time. This experience will help me to broaden my cultural competence by working with people of a difference culture and who speak different language. It will also help me to sharpen my nursing assessment and intervention skills before I head off to my first nursing job.

I am happy to say that I have just been hired as a Float Staff RN at the Mayo Clinic. I will return to Rochester in February and complete a 3 month orientation before starting on my own. As a member of the float staff I can float to any inpatient medical-surgical unit, intermediate care unit, and some specialty units such as pediatrics. I am ready for this challenge and cannot wait to start this new adventure in my life.

Image Description: Samantha Phyllis Paradis

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The University of Maine
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System