Last month, Rebecca Lumley, an accelerated nursing student at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, was in the middle of a clinical shift when she experienced firsthand the importance of reviewing orders in a timely fashion.
After walking through the process with Jessica Middleton, a clinical nurse instructor in the College of Nursing, Lumley began reviewing the chart and orders for a patient with a gastrostomy tube. Having learned about the care of G-tubes and nursing responsibilities in her skills lab last fall, Lumley was able to better understand the concept of “goal rate” and how to achieve it accordingly. When she noticed the patient’s rate didn’t match up with their chart, she brought that to the attention of the primary nurse, who quickly determined that it was time to increase the rate to achieve the goal established for the patient.
“The nurse was so grateful and later approached me stating, ‘She is going to be a great nurse!’” Middleton said. “I couldn’t be prouder of Rebecca for applying what we often teach in the skills lab and reiterate throughout the students’ clinical experience. Seeing the impact of diligent nursing helps the students build confidence as well as solidify the skills taught.”
Lumley, who started in the accelerated BSN program last fall, also earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology from UMSL in 2000. She said it was a logical choice to come back and earn her next degree at the university, citing the familiar campus, great students and supportive professors. The idea of going back to school first started brewing during the pandemic when her kids were at home doing virtual learning. Nursing appealed to her inherent love of taking care of others, and UMSL’s Accelerated BSN program offered the flexibility she needed with six kids between ages 7 and 18 at home.
“I just realized it’s only a year – anything can happen in a year,” she said. “It’s good as far as having a family at home and other responsibilities. A year is the time commitment I could give.”
And in that year, Lumley is progressively building her skillset. Her coursework in the early days of the program provided a solid foundation of nursing concepts and practice as she began moving through her clinical experience. She completed her first clinical in elder care at Christian Hospital and is currently doing clinical work in adult care at SSM Health DePaul Hospital and mental health at Barnes-Jewish Hospital Psychiatry Care’s Delmar campus. Next, she’ll move on to children’s care and labor and delivery. Through the clinical work, she’s realized just how much she loves patient care, including interacting with families and taking care of patients, down to the most basic tasks.
“The clinical instructors have been phenomenal,” she said. “The other week, Jessica said, ‘Okay, I’m coming into your patient’s room with you’ and then showed me how to set up a patient’s room. That really helped me see, ‘Okay, if I’m the one in charge of this room as the nurse, here’s what I need to do, here’s what I need to be looking for.’ It really put perspective on what I should be doing. In the beginning it was real simple; we just helped here and there. And now I’m taking care of my own patient or two while I’m at clinical. It’s been really enjoyable – heavy at times – but a great learning experience.”
While Lumley acknowledged that the accelerated program is intense and requires a lot of its students, she said it has equipped her with friendship, encouragement and more knowledge than she thought was possible.
“It is filled with Type A personalities,” she said. “Everybody wants an A on every assignment, and it can be very high stress. I would recommend the program, and I would recommend that people really consider not working while doing the program if they can. Some are doing it successfully, and that is awesome, but it’s super intense. I would say it’s going to be challenging, but you can do it. Each class period is only going to be hard – super, super hard – for a few weeks and then you’ll be done. It’s very time-intensive, and there’s a ton of information to know.”
But as she starts to wrap up her second-to-last semester in the accelerated program, Lumley is grateful for what she’s learned in the intensive program and confident that it’s prepared her well to take care of her patients.
“I feel much more confident,” she said. “I feel like I can walk into a room and see what’s happening and see what needs to be done, and at least know the questions to get me to the next question or the next step, or to know where to look to find information.”
After graduating in August, Lumley will begin a full-time position at Mercy Hospital St. Louis on the Trauma/Surgical Floor in October. Believing it would be a great fit for her, one of her clinical professors suggested she look into it, and she was instantly drawn to the team’s camaraderie and all-hands-on-deck attitude.
“When I talked to the recruiter, she said that on this particular floor, the nurse manager there has been there for maybe 15 years, and she is a team player and she will come and take your patient to the bathroom while you’re working with another patient,” Lumley said. “And that is the kind of team that I want to be on: a team that is already in place, that has longevity and loyalty to their units and that is willing to help each other even with tasks that may be considered menial.”