by Jenny Gregory
CLEVELAND, GA., (TMNews) – After the first class of 31 Truett-McConnell nursing students graduated in 2015, many of those graduates, including Carolina Alarcon, have entered into the medical field with a passion to assist those in need and be a witness for Christ.
Alarcon, a licensed Registered Nurse, currently works as a Patient Care Technician in the Intensive Care Unit of Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins, Ga.
“I chose Truett-McConnell because I liked the small campus aspect. I liked how small the classes were and I liked that all of the programs were Christ-centered,” Alarcon shared.
Stepping out on faith
As she stepped on campus to begin her freshman year in 2011, Alarcon began her studies as a World Missions major. However, with the opening of the newly added nursing department that same year, Alarcon, who had a passion for helping others, found herself pursuing a double major just so she could be a part of both fields.
“Through prayer and advice from my parents and the [Division of Nursing Faculty],” Alarcon said, “I decided to focus on Nursing because I would get a Biblical foundation in the Great Commission minor while getting a degree in a field that has secular value.”
Alarcon also felt that the program “would be a good platform to get into closed countries for missions.”
Each year, the nursing students spent countless hours in campus classrooms and simulation labs. They were also able to take part in mission experiences local and abroad and put their knowledge to work as they participate in clinical opportunities off campus.
“One specific thing that I loved,” Alarcon added, “was that at the beginning of most, if not all class days in the nursing program, our teachers and students would share a devotion and we would have a time of prayer.”
Entering the nursing field
Alarcon shared how the impact of professors, the friendships with classmates, and the Christ-centered education she received at Truett-McConnell prepared her for this first year in the nursing field.
“I assist the (other) nurses in the care of the patients,” Alarcon said as she shared just a few of the nightly responsibilities she has in the Intensive Care Unit. “I monitor vital signs, weight, inputs and outputs, and bathe patients. I make sure supplies are available and perform CPR occasionally during cardiac arrests.”
Each day, as she walks into the doors for her shift at Houston Medical Center, Alarcon continues to use the same tools of knowledge she was given while at Truett-McConnell.
“We were taught that it is important to take a minute and allow the patients to express what they are feeling, because often times, we see these patients on their worst days. Our [TM] instructors taught us how to show compassion to family members and loved ones of patients who are critically ill or have deceased. We were taught to not only take care of the physical body, but to take into account the patient’s feelings.”
A future filled with opportunities
Alarcon is excited about her future in the nursing field, sharing: “I will start working as an RN hopefully in February in the next ICU/step down RN residency.”
She also has plans to earn her Master’s in Nursing to study midwifery and transition to the Labor and Delivery field.
As Alarcon looks back on her time at Truett-McConnell, she encourages those who are considering nursing or are currently in the nursing program to: “Push through. It is so hard to learn all the information necessary, but keep working hard. Everything will be worth it when you take care of a patient who was really sick and realized you helped him or her get better.”
While some days the hours are extremely long, Alarcon is reminded why she answered this calling in her life: “I love most seeing patients who were once very ill get better and having the opportunity to be a part of their healing process.”
Paving the way for others
The Truett-McConnell nursing program continues to expand and better train students who want to make an impact in the field of healthcare. Just this year, the nursing program received grants to purchase a new female simulation mannequin and to help furnish the future expansion of lab space.
Of the 31 Truett-McConnell graduates, many have now entered the field in local and out of state healthcare facilities. The Truett-McConnell staff shared that there are TM nursing graduates working in the field at: Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Ga., Habersham Medical Center in Demorest, Ga., Houston Medical Center in Warner Robbins, Ga., Northside Hospital in Cumming, Ga., Northside Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Visiting Angels in Cleveland, Ga., Marietta Crisis Stabilization Unit, VA Hospital Atlanta, Black Bear Lodge in Cleveland, Ga. and Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.
Professor Celeste Dunningham, Associate Professor and Division of Nursing Chair, shared: “Truett-McConnell nursing graduates bring nursing practice grounded in spiritual principles and a commitment to servanthood to the healthcare facilities where they will practice.”
“My advice,” Dunnington added “is to stay grounded in your faith, take time to enjoy friends and family, and continue to establish lifelong learning as integral part of your nursing practice.”
Jenny Gregory is the Content Manager at Truett-McConnell College