Since the time Jennifer Vander Veen ’12, a nursing major from Alton, Iowa, was a junior in high school, she held onto the goal of attaining and completing an externship with Mayo Clinic.
This past summer, her goal was achieved as Vander Veen made a temporary move from northwest Iowa to Arizona for a summer at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.
As a worldwide leader in health care, Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization that assisted more than 1 million patients in 2010. Mayo is also accredited with providing high-quality research and education opportunities for employees, as well as students preparing to enter the medical field.
At the Phoenix location, Vander Veen spent three days per week working alongside a registered nurse as an extern on the hospital’s Hematology, Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplant floor, focusing on learning to provide direct patient care. Vander Veen’s responsibilities varied from taking vital signs, to running chemotherapy, to admitting or discharging patients.
One particular responsibility, Vander Veen noted, helped her practice skills beyond medicinal expertise.
“During the mid-mornings, I would give patient updates to the attending physician, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners, and we would discuss the patient’s care plan,” said Vander Veen. “This was something that I didn’t have a lot of exposure to until I started taking on my own patients at Mayo, and it devoted my attention to how critical communication skills are in nursing.”
Having this opportunity before her senior year at Trinity, Vander Veen acquired some important skills to take into her final semesters.
“I learned a lot about organizing my patient care for the day,” Vander Veen said. “Organization is crucial in nursing, and I became much more efficient in my charting and plan of care for the day. I feel like this was a huge confidence booster coming into my last year of school.”
More important, Vander Veen said her experience with Mayo Clinic has redefined her views of the nursing major, and she recognizes how her time at Trinity is preparing her for life after graduation.
“Nursing as a major isn’t about passing a bunch of tests; the tests just keep me accountable for learning and incorporating my nursing knowledge into my patient care,” said Vander Veen. “Nursing requires extreme dedication to studying all of the theories, research, and care that go into medical care, and I’m realizing that my education at Trinity is equipping me for the rest of my life.”