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Nursing: Oliver treats patients like loved ones at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh internship

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Hoping to maximize her internship experience, Kaitlin Oliver, a senior nursing major at Waynesburg University, thoughtfully considered where she might develop the most expertise during the summer of 2013. At her interview for a prestigious student nurse intern position at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Oliver was asked to choose two departments in which she wanted to work. 

“At the time, I had no idea which to select, so I asked the supervisor on which floors she thought I would learn the most,” Oliver said. “The majority of students select the intensive care units. However, I was skeptical because those patients are extremely ill; so I did not think I would get the opportunity to do much for the patients as a student.”

Impressed by Oliver’s commitment to absorbing the most out of the experience, the supervisor suggested that she work on the transplant or the neurosurgery, trauma and orthopedic unit, both of which are internationally recognized. Shortly after she jotted those down and left the interview, Oliver was offered the position. 

“The internship gave me the opportunity to work 12-hour shifts, which is what is expected in the real world,” Oliver said. “Working 12 hours allowed me to see everything that a nurse does in a typical day including receiving reports, making initial assessments, administering morning medications, acknowledging orders, providing patient education, providing discharge instructions, completing documentation and much more.”

At the internship, Oliver worked alongside a registered nurse to which she was assigned the first day of orientation. 

“I got the opportunity to do all of the tasks and skills that the registered nurse did, with a one-on-one relationship,” Oliver said. “I felt as though the nurse valued me and made me feel more like a nurse than I ever have before.”  

The nurse trusted Oliver to perform many tasks independently due to the student’s excellent preparation and advanced bedside manner. During the summer, Oliver cared diligently for a small boy who couldn’t breathe on his own. Given the tasks of suctioning, flushing his IV, providing his feedings through his gastrostomy tube, and much more for the child, Oliver said her heart ached for him. Her love for God’s children shone through her care, compassion and expertise.

“The Waynesburg University Nursing Department teaches the importance of providing holistic care, which sets it apart from other nursing schools,” Oliver said. “While caring for my patients, I realized that I wanted to care for my patients beyond their physiological needs; I wanted to care for them emotionally, spiritually and socially. My goal was to serve my patients as if it were one of my loved ones lying in that hospital bed.”

That experience, and many others throughout the summer, reminded her of why she wanted to be a nurse. Many people, including Christina Miser, an instructor of nursing at Waynesburg University and Oliver’s clinical adviser, believe that the profession fits her perfectly. 

“Kaitlin is always enthusiastic and is eager to learn, absorb new information and apply it to future experiences,” Miser said. “Her achievements thus far reflect her hard work; I believe she has placed herself in a position to be successful in whatever avenue of nursing she chooses.” 

Though that avenue is still undetermined, Oliver knows that she has both the skills and the confidence to excel in her chosen profession. 

 “At the internship, I was proud to be representing Waynesburg University. I had a lot of nurses ask me where I go to school because they were impressed with what I knew,” Oliver said. “Being a student nurse intern exposed me to situations that caused me to critically think and problem solve.  It reassured me that I chose the right career path, and I cannot wait to do something that I love for the rest of my days.”