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What are you doing now for work?

I am a neonatal intensive care unit nurse at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C. I work with premature neonates and infants up to one year old. Our tiny infants are very sick and usually require intubation, medications, IVs and frequent nursing assessments. These infants are not our only patients. Parents, siblings, family and friends are also patients, and part of my job is to comfort them during such a difficult time.

Did an internship lead to your current job?

I did not do an internship through Duke, but I do believe the internships I did had a huge impact on my success in landing this job. I was fortunate in being able to have two internships during my education at St. Joe’s. The summer after my junior year I applied for Maine Medical Center’s SNIP program: student nurse internship program. It was three months long and I was on a medical-surgical trauma floor. My senior practicum was on the same floor. The months of experience gained on this fast-paced floor were instrumental in preparing me for critical care nursing.

Was St. Joe’s helpful in any way in terms of landing your job at Duke?

The nursing program prepared me in many ways for my challenging job. An example is something as simple as the math tests every semester. At the time, they felt repetitive and unnecessary. However, during my orientation at Duke, I had to pass three math tests and an EKG arrhythmia test before I could begin working on the unit. Duke sets a high standard for nurses, and every part of my education at St. Joe’s prepared me to meet that demand. Nothing prepared me more than Gail Marchigiano’s critical care class. It was an optional class senior year and my favorite one. I learned so much and to this day I reference my notes.

What do you love about St. Joe’s?

I love St. Joe’s for how dedicated the professors are to their students’ success. During the process of applying to Duke, I met with my professors, both business and nursing (I have a business minor) about my application, my resume and interviewing skills. They spent time with me even after the school year had ended.

The nursing program at St. Joe’s is grounded in an education using evidence-based practice. The same is true for working at Duke, but now I am part of studies changing practice for the better. At any given time there are a handful of studies occurring in the unit. Nurses participate in these studies dedicated to changing the outcomes of our neonates. Current studies in the unit are medication metabolism in newborns, temperature cooling for birth asphyxia, and the nutritional differences found in breast milk, donor milk and formula.

Tell us about landing the job at Duke.

My education at Saint Joseph’s and my internships at Maine Medical Center prepared me for my dream job at Duke. Nine hundred people applied for my position, and 18 were interviewed for six positions. The interview was intense and had questions specific to the unit and critical care nursing. Due to the complexity of the patients, my orientation was six months long. Those six months were daunting, but St. Joe’s gave me a strong education allowing me to work at an amazing hospital nationally known for research and medical care.