Like many children, Abby Crow was terrified of needles.
“Anytime I would go get my annual shots at the doctor when I was little, I would have a little panic attack and throw a fit and not want to get it done,” she said. “It was the nurses who would sit with me, hold me on their lap and comfort me. I’m still not the most comfortable with needles, but because of those nurses I was able to get the vaccines and such that I needed when I was little.”
Crow credits those nurses from her childhood – as well as her primary care physician, who always made a point of checking in with her about things outside of her health, like sports games – with instilling in her a passion for nursing and taking care of others from a young age.
Crow, who graduated magna cum laude over the weekend with her BSN from the College of Nursing at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, grew up in the small town of Franklin, Illinois, and was quickly drawn to the close-knit community both in the College of Nursing and the Pierre Laclede Honors College. She enjoyed getting to chat one-on-one with Dean Edward Munn Sanchez in The Nosh during one of her initial visits to campus and appreciated the small, intimate class sizes in the Honors College. In both the College of Nursing and Honors College, she felt like the professors made a point to get to know their students.
“When I see them in passing, they’ll still call me by name,” she said. “To me, it just brings you back to the high school experience. I went to a small high school, so UMSL was good for me in the fact that I’ve always felt comfortable here. Seeing instructors in passing and them calling you by name reminds me of high school because I wasn’t expecting to get that at college.”
The Office of Residential Life and Housing has also played a pivotal role in Crow’s time at UMSL, having lived and worked on campus throughout her four years. She started as a desk assistant at the front desk in Oak Hall before moving up to an RA and, in her final year, working as assistant resident director. This most recent role helped her gain pivotal communication, management and leadership skills that she feels translate easily into the field of nursing.
“I never really quite grasped that there is a big difference in a manager and a leader until Res Life,” she said. “It has really given me so many life skills that I never thought it could have. In nursing, you have to learn to work for the patient. Res Life is kind of the same thing. I gained a lot of those customer service skills and learning to work with and for people in their home because for our patients, the hospital, for the time being, is their home. In Res Life we’ve had to learn to work for and with our residents at the residence hall that is their home.”
Crow has always been drawn to the adrenaline rush of nursing, but she knew the ER wouldn’t be the best fit. After enjoying her OB class and clinical in the College of Nursing, she was pretty certain that she wanted to specialize in labor and delivery, but getting hands-on experience solidified her future plans.
This past summer, she completed an internship at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, working on the ICU step-down floor as well as her chosen specialty of labor and delivery. Through the internship, she was offered a full-time position as a labor and delivery nurse after graduation, and she’s continued to return home once a month this fall to work as a nurse extern on the labor floor to get more familiar with the operations.
“It’s just such a fascinating thing, getting to see life come into the world,” she said. “It’s also super empowering helping these women go through such a traumatic thing and getting to be there for them through that. We see them in labor but also we have a postpartum side where the women get to stay with us until they go home, so we get to see them progress from before they have their baby, when they have their baby and then we get to see them start to bond with their baby and then send them home with their baby. Obviously not every moment on labor and delivery is happy, but I would say overall the experience is very positive.”
For now, Crow has her sights set firmly on working as a labor nurse, but eventually, she’d like to go back to school to further her education, perhaps as a nurse practitioner or in more of a leadership or management role.
As she reflects back on her time at UMSL, she’s grateful for the faculty in the College of Nursing for being so accessible and providing a solid foundation for her education.
“I would have to give it all to the professors,” she said. “One thing that has remained consistent during my time at UMSL is the professors. I feel like every single professor I’ve had makes themselves available to you. They’re really good about connecting with us personally. They don’t just worry about our classwork; they also worry about our workload at home and with our families and making sure we’re making time for ourselves. They’re good about making themselves available anytime, any day, which I really appreciate because you don’t see that with every college instructor.”