Nursing Students hope you have a great conference at this week’s convention NSNA! Stop by our booth 509/511 to learn more about our A Life-Changing Career with Mayo Clinic!
The Summer III Nursing Externship Program extends beyond the borders of Rochester, MN. I learned this when I was first exposed to Mayo Clinic in Michigan and then again, two years later, in Kansas.
As a sophomore pre-nursing student, I was very aware of the Mayo Clinic Summer III Program and the way it helps nursing students connect theoretical classroom knowledge to real life situations. To my amazement, Mayo Clinic attended a career fair at Calvin College, a small Christian school in Grand Rapids, MI. While senior nursing students crowded around the Mayo table to speak about post-graduation employment, I waited to find out about the Summer III program. The HR person’s face beamed when I finally made it through the line and told her of my interest. “Latasha, this last one’s for you,” she said and that’s how I met Latasha Perkins, Mayo Clinic’s wonderful Summer III ambassador. I already had my information packet in hand so Latasha quickly realized I didn’t need logistical details. I needed to know if I was a good fit for Mayo Clinic. So, although it was late in the day, and she probably would have liked to pack up and leave, Latasha sat down to listen to me explain my passion for nursing and all my lofty career goals.
She connected with me on such a genuinely personal level that, by the end of our short conversation, I knew Latasha is amazing and different from any other recruiter I’d ever met. NOW, of course, I recognize that she was upholding what I know to be the Mayo Clinic Values. But back then I was simply struck by the idea that, if Mayo Clinic has people like Latasha, then I want to be there too. After repeating my name about a dozen times, and asking her not to forget me, I promised she would see my application the following December. She laughed good-naturedly and promised not to forget.
My life took an unexpected turn when I decided to take a gap year in my studies and work full time as an EMT in Chicago while transferring to a larger university. I was willing to finish my undergraduate degree a year later than originally planned but I also had to postpone Mayo Clinic. So, nine months after meeting Latasha, I emailed her to explain why I wouldn’t be applying for the 2013 program after all. With little expectation she would recall our meeting, a few hours later, crazy as it sounds, I received her response. She DID remember me and would be expecting my application for 2014. Thank you for not forgetting me Latasha. By remembering and caring, you showed me for a second time, just how special Mayo Clinic must be. Without your warm response, I don’t know if I would have mustered the energy to apply to a long-distance externship so soon after re-starting my life in Kansas City. But I did and I was incredibly excited and grateful to accept my Summer III offer.
Little did I know I would experience the “Mayo Way” once again before actually moving to Rochester becoming a Summer III.
I met Mary, a pre-op nurse at a Kansas Hospital, during one of my clinical days in the CV-OR last Spring. Within minutes of working with our first patient of the day I could tell there was something dramatically different about the way Mary provided care. Despite the fact it was 7AM, and Mary’s third consecutive day working a12-hour shift, I watched as she treated our anxious patient with compassion and reassurance. She took the time to listen to his concerns and answer every question, no matter how small. She had a contagious smile on her face and assumed complete responsibility for helping the patient feel calm and safe. She performed her nursing tasks so diligently that, by the time his family left for the waiting room, she had time to pull a chair to his bedside and simply hold his hand – one person connecting to another. She didn’t see him as just another patient; she saw him as an important individual with highly individual needs.
When the patient was transported to the OR, Mary turned to me and asked what I was doing with my summer. My response was general – just that I would be working as an extern in Minnesota. But Mary immediately gasped with delight and said, “Are you going to be a Summer III?” Before I could figure out how she knew, she said she was a Summer III and it had been the single most impactful experience of her nursing career. She made lifelong friends that summer, was even in one roommate’s wedding, and the women remain close friends years later, getting together frequently even though they live in different states.
All of a sudden I realized I had seen Mayo Clinic in action – again – only this time it was a Summer III who was one of my nursing mentors. I was incredibly impressed by Mary, as a person and as a nurse, but I still couldn’t understand how Mayo Clinic produces such wonderful people. What was the secret? I combed the website over and over again, reading all the information and watching and re-watching the Summer III interviews on-line. I wasn’t skeptical when I heard their comments, I just couldn’t fathom a place like they were describing.
Week One of our Summer III Program began to give me answers. As I found myself standing in the unfamiliar setting of an OR, I sensed right away that there were many things to learn here that nursing school wouldn’t, and just couldn’t, teach. Mayo Clinic would teach me about nursing that goes well beyond medications and procedures.
During week two, a patient came into the OR and, as the anesthesia team began their work, my clinical coach walked to the patient’s side to provide a smile and a hand to hold, I saw the patient’s body relax and it all seemed very familiar. Suddenly it clicked and all made sense as I thought back to Mary in Kansas City. Handholding is an international symbol of care and comfort and it represents the spirit of nursing at Mayo Clinic. That’s what I’d been struggling to identify. The Mayo Way is all about caring.
These are Mayo-trained nurses, I thought to myself, the ones who truly and wholeheartedly believe that the patient always comes first. These are the nurses who are willing to hold hope for a patient when he can’t hold it for himself. Mary and Becky embody Mayo Clinic nursing and now I will too. Thank you Becky for all your support and guidance, and for holding my hand during 10 weeks that have powerfully changed my life.
I am so thankful to be a Summer III. The program has been everything I hoped it would be and I’m convinced we have each been prepared and empowered for an exceptional nursing career. We may be here at Mayo Clinic or, like Mary, hundreds of miles away. But wherever we’re called to serve, we will always be Mayo-trained nurses and people will notice there’s something different about us – some THING that sets us apart from the rest. Thanks to Mayo Clinic, I can’t imagine ever being anything less.