Published August 1, 2022
Rising Buffalo Public Schools senior Unique Richards always liked helping people. Concerned about underrepresented patients being neglected in hospitals, she had long considered becoming a nurse. But she had never been to UB, much less anywhere near its School of Nursing.
BPS rising junior AnnaJean Meier loved losing herself in TV medical dramas, immersing herself in the characters and illnesses. When her mother found notice of the School of Nursing’s summer program for city students interested in nursing paths, Meier gladly signed up.
Richards, Meier and 30 other city high school students interested in what it means to be a nurse were in Wende Hall on the South Campus July 14 to see the School of Nursing in action — up close and personal.
Among the program’s professional, warm, occasionally funny, personal, engaging presentations: a confident, hands-on introduction to simulated patient care led by nursing students Allison Hogan and Caitlyn Tiedemann featuring “Vivian,” one of the school’s interactive mannequins outfitted to take part in all patient simulations.
“It might seem a little silly, like you are just playing patient, just messing around with this mannequin,” Hogan told the students while Tiedemann backed her up. “But it feels real when you are in it. It’s just nursing students; it’s not faculty or graduate assistants. When the door closes, you are in here with your patient.
“While you are in here, you are in the nursing zone,” said Hogan, a BS-DNP nurse anesthesia student. “You feel like it’s a hospital. You come in and say, ‘Hi my name is Allison. I’m going to be your nurse today. How are you feeling?’ And the patient will talk back to you and tell you. It’s such a powerful tool. It gets you ready for situations you will see in the hospital.”
“We want to upgrade everyone’s situation,” added Tiedemann, a BS-DNP adult gerontology student, “where if they say, ‘I don’t know what I would do initially,’ they can debrief with a professional and talk about it until they say, ‘You know what? Now my light bulbs are going off. I would have totally done this.’”
For the 32 students from throughout the Buffalo Public Schools chosen for the SON’s summer program, this was just one scene. They also saw a hands-one demonstration of how to use an automated external defibrillator, or AED. They learned a fun way to measure the effectiveness of hand-washing. They received informed pep talks from UB graduates who have gone on to thrive in the world of nursing.
“It was very informative and reassured me this is the field I want to go into,” said Richards, who is about to enter her senior year at Hutchinson Central Technical High School. “It cleared up confusion. There are a lot of acronyms in nursing and I didn’t know what they meant.”
“I have been saying I wanted to be a nurse since middle school,” said Meier, who returns to PS 156 Frederick Law Olmsted School this fall. “So this is a good way of getting some hands-on experience.”
Jennifer Schreier, director of student services for the School of Nursing, called this summer program a “pilot” of what the school hopes will be an annual event targeting underrepresented high school students.
“The larger goal of this program is to increase the pipeline of diverse applicants into the nursing field,” said Schreier. “We asked students to provide a short essay describing their interest in nursing, as well as sending us a copy of their transcripts as part of the application process.
“Some of our long-term goals with this program are to foster the relationship we have with the students that attend the program so that we can mentor them to apply to UB in the future.”
The more than half-day program included a panel discussion with nurses in various stages of their careers — all with UB connections. They heard Laura Connell, enrollment services adviser, tell them to never underestimate their ability to earn financial aid.
And new Dean Annette B. Wysocki welcomed the students to campus and gave them another dose of encouragement, reminding them “that opportunities will sometimes find you, while at other times you can actively seek out opportunities to expand your horizons among the multiple career opportunities in nursing.”
Throughout the seminar, the professionals and graduate students stressed the versatility of the nursing profession — a career that can adapt to fit individual needs, in addition to providing the rarefied satisfaction that comes from helping cure, heal and comfort.
“You have options; you are not limited,” said Takesha Leonard, who moderated the panel discussion. Leonard began attending UB when she was 17, and is now a pediatric nurse practitioner and medical director at the Jericho Road Community Health Center.
“Nursing is not a career you get lost in. Nursing is a career where you can ride that thing, that thing that really inspires you, really motivates you and really allows you to be the best you can be,” she said.
The program also offered the high school students a collective life lesson of never selling yourself short: Be aware of your potential and talent, even if it occasionally looks bleak.
“Never give up,” Leonard said, when one of the students asked what advice she would give her high school self. “There will be so many people who will tell you ‘You can’t, you can’t.’ You have to find that something inside of you that says you can and you will do it.”