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Nursing Students Help Save a Life

Two nursing studentsFaced with a high-stress situation, two dedicated nursing students applied their skills to aid in saving a life. Their actions not only underscore the significance of quality healthcare training, but also shed light on the incredible potential that lies within the next generation of healthcare professionals.

The students, Jana Crawford and Maria Santistevan, are both first-semester nursing students at St. Louis Community College at Wildwood. Six weeks into the program, the pair encountered an emergency while participating in a clinical experience at Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital. According to their instructor, their quick thinking was critical in this situation.

Santistevan recounted the experience.

“We spent a few hours with our patient in the morning, making sure he ate his breakfast, and then we took his vitals. After he completed an hour-long physical therapy session, he seemed tired, so we told him to get some rest until it was time for his next session in 30 minutes. When we returned to his room, our patient said he wasn’t feeling well and that he was seeing double. I told Maria to stay with him while I found his nurse. I returned to his room soon after because I wasn’t able to find his nurse.

“By this time, Maria had noticed that our patient was slurring his words. I ran into the hallway and found a different nurse to assist. Our instructor, Shannon Dobsch, came in soon after and we worked together to move our patient out of his wheelchair and into his bed.

“We called for additional help and minutes later a medical team came in and performed the NIH Stroke Scale (NIHSS), which is a standardized tool used to assess the severity of stroke. When it was determined that he needed additional care, he was transported via ambulance to the hospital. It’s our understanding that he is still there, working to recover.”

Dobsch said the students’ actions played a vital role to the patient’s outcome.

“I'm proud of Jana and Maria for how they handled themselves,” Dobsch said. “Although they had only been in the nursing program for six weeks when this situation occurred, they responded quickly and with purpose. Their actions helped ensure that their patient received a higher level of care.”

According to Crawford and Santistevan, this incident deepened their individual motivations for wanting to become a nurse.

“Learning from Shannon in our Fundamentals of Nursing course has been instrumental,” Santistevan said. “From her, we’re becoming more confident and comfortable in high-stress medical situations.”

Crawford added, “Shannon continues to go above and beyond to ensure that we are prepared and knowledgeable to enter the nursing field."

Cancer, Pregnancy Led Crawford to Nursing  

As an adult learner, Crawford enrolled at STLCC following a decade-long career in banking. She attributes her desire to become a nurse to her personal experiences as a cancer patient and a pregnant woman.

"When I was pregnant with my third child, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer,” she explained.

That experience was life-changing in more ways than one. 

“The incredible care I received from my health care team, during my cancer treatments and throughout my pregnancy and birth, ignited my interest in becoming a nurse.”  

Fast-forward seven years, Crawford is doubling down on her career aspirations by working as a patient care associate while pursuing her nursing degree. This opportunity, made possible through Mercy South’s Win from Within program, provides her with tuition assistance as long as she works for the hospital part time while in school and fulfills a two-year commitment as a nurse once she completes her degree.

Although it’s a heavy lift, Crawford is determined to maximize the opportunity.

“I enjoy the challenge, and I love what I’m learning,” she said. “I’m the type of person who likes to stay active, so being a nurse is a great fit.” 

After graduation, she aspires to work as a labor and delivery nurse. 

“As a mom of three, I know first-hand what labor and delivery is like,” she said. “The nurses who cared for me during my deliveries really helped me, so that’s why I want to be a nurse. I want to support other women during this special time in their lives.” 

Sisters Spark Santistevan’s Interest in Nursing  

Santistevan has wanted to be a nurse since she was 10 years old. Her passion for the profession began when her twin sisters were born seven weeks prematurely.

“I have vivid memories of the nurses who provided care to my sisters when they were babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU),” she said. “The nurses were patient and kind, and they taught me how to do things for my sisters, like how to hold them, swaddle them and feed them. The nurses made a stressful situation better, and that’s why I want to be a nurse.” 

Like Crawford, Santistevan is also involved in a tuition exchange program where she receives on-the-job training as a patient care technician. When she’s not in class or studying for her exams, she frequently works at the hospital.

“Once I become an RN, I'll have a job at Mercy,” she said. “Ideally, I'd like to work as a nurse caring for babies in their first two hours of life.” 

After STLCC, Santistevan plans to continue her education so she can become a nurse practitioner in the NICU.

“While nursing school is not easy and it takes time, I know the reward will be worth it,” she said. 

Learn more about the Nursing program at STLCC.

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