When change gets personal

Poster showing a nurse, with her arms outstret...

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Last summer, Rockingham Memorial Hospital moved to a new campus on the east side of Harrisonburg. Many of us watched it go up from a comfortable distance.  Recently, however, Michelle Hite (’88), managing editor of Madison magazine got a different view, a close up and very personal view of the new hospital. With this vantage came some insights about JMU, about Be the Change, and about being on the receiving end of the Be the Change spirit…..

Bringing the Change

by Michelle Hite (’88)

Every day on my way to work at JMU, I drive by the new Rockingham Memorial Hospital. I’ve watched the new hospital emerge from the groundbreaking to installing the last of the parking lot lights. It’s been amazing to see this transformation. I have also edited the JMU Nursing Department newsletter, The Pulse, for many years and written stories about the JMU nursing program, its students and professors, and their collaborations with RMH.

Never once during this time did I dream I would be in the hospital for five days and experience JMU student nurses in action.

During one of the scariest experiences of my life, I couldn’t have been more proud to be a JMU alumna. One student nurse, in particular, stood out during my recent stay at Rockingham Memorial Hospital’s West 2 respiratory wing.

Anna Erickson (’11) of Fallston, Md., went above and beyond in her care for me.  Though she’s only a senior, she already knows it takes more than good technical abilities to become a good nurse. Being a good nurse is more than taking a blood pressure or giving a shot. It is that caring and nurturing attitude, that “Be the Change” extra, that the best nurses bring to their profession.

Anna is going to be an exceptional nurse.

She did all the things that the other student nurses did — helped with medication, logged in data about my condition — but more than this, she was an advocate for me.

After three days in the hospital, I would have given my right arm for a shower. Yes, it may sound simple, but we take the simplest things for granted. Try going three days without a shower and see how you feel. Then, add a few blood clots in your lung and fatigue and you’ll know how much feeling clean will lift your spirits.

Though I was hooked up to an oxygen line and a portable heart monitor, I was still mobile and was begging for a shower after the second day. Anna heard me begging the charge nurse, and she volunteered. She empathized and felt how uncomfortable I was. After the nurse gave permission, Anna untangled all the heart monitor ledes and lines and stood by my bathroom door to make sure I didn’t fall.

After I was clean and felt like a new woman, the heart monitor had to be put back on with its five ledes. Anna taught a fellow classmate how to hook it back up properly. Then asked me if I needed anything else.

Anna, you are more than a good nurse; you do more than show the Be the Change attitude — YOU ROCK, kiddo!

JMU students bring the Be the Change spirit to more than just an Alternative Spring Break or volunteering at the Big Event clean-up day. They bring this Be the Change attitude to their academic careers, their majors, their lives. Some come to JMU equipped this way, but I know they are also taught this at JMU. They are encouraged to Be the Change in every project, every class discussion. I know this, because my JMU professors were promoting the Be the Change attitude when I was a student back in the stone age. Now we’ve just put a moniker on our “JMU way” — Be the Change.

JMU students bring their 18-year-old selves to this campus and they find their real selves. Professors, like Be the Changer Margaret Bagnardi in the JMU Nursing Department, don’t just teach “skills,” they teach with a Be the Change spirit.

When you get your Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Madison magazine in the mail (around May 7 – 11), take a look at Page 28. You’ll see even more student nurses in action and see how they are serving a very underrepresented portion of our local community — the homeless — 47 percent of which are children. After a grant application fell through, the professors and administrators in the nursing department rolled up their sleeves and created the Medical Suitcase Clinic for the Homeless. Student nurses, like Anna, are being advocates for children and homeless families — not for internship credit, not to check off a to-do list, but because JMU people Bring The Change every day. Thanks again, Anna!

To learn more about JMU’s nursing program, click here: http://www.nursing.jmu.edu/bsn/index.html


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

5 Responses to When change gets personal

  1. Jan Gillis says:

    You’re right, my dad has been in RMH three times since the new year. As an 88-year-old who wanted nothing more than to go home, he nonetheless had mountains of praise for the JMU nursing students and the nursing staff and doctors who cared for him. The nursing students are exceptional. They make us proud.


  2. Merle Mast, JMU Department of Nursing says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Michelle. We are proud of Anna, and your affirmation of her and JMU’s nursing program is better than a shot in the arm!


  3. Eric Gorton says:

    Well done, Michelle. Great story.


  4. Bill Gentry says:

    Wonderful post, Michelle. Wonderful!


  5. Great post – what a testament to the quality nurses JMU provides. Thanks for sharing!


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