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Sierra Rasmus is pursuing her calling

Sierra Rasmus poses with instructor Jamie Penrod and her clinical group.

Sierra Rasmus chose to be a nurse because her mom pushed her into it.

Today, she laughs when she talks about it.

“Ok, so she didn’t push me into it; she encouraged me,” Sierra said. “However, being the stubborn teenager I was, at the time I thought, ‘there’s no way I’m doing nursing.’”

Despite not being a nurse herself, nor having any close family members in healthcare, Sierra’s mom knew from the time Sierra was five years old that Sierra was destined for nursing.

Sierra Rasmus, MCN alumni hired by Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Sierra Rasmus

“My mom always said it was because I was so caring,” Sierra laughs. “Eventually, I realized she was right; it was what was my calling. So I came to Illinois State, and have loved it ever since.”

Sierra’s journey is a bit unique. She entered Illinois State as a sophomore because she already had college credit. She describes her transition and the process of making friends as “a bit weird”. However, when she started her nursing classes, she hit her stride.

“These past years have been an amazing experience, and I have learned so much about myself. I became involved in the Student Nurses’ Association (SNA) and Mennonite College of Nursing’s (MCN) Leadership Academy. Both of these experiences have allowed me to learn to be a leader in nursing.”

Sierra describes her favorite thing about the program as her clinical groups.

“To have people who supported you no matter what was so important,” she said. “Clinical can be stressful, and because of that, it is nice to have people to debrief with. I never had a bad clinical group.”

Ok, I can do this. I’m going to be a nurse.

Sierra also claims that clinical was where she had that “I’m-really-going-to-be-a-nurse” moment.

“Adult 2 clinical was where I finally was like, ‘Ok, I can do this. I’m going to be a nurse.’ It was where I started to feel like I knew what I was doing. My instructor was Paula Brown and she was awesome. I really think it was Paula who taught me how to be a nurse. She taught me that it’s not just about giving a medication.  It’s about holding a patient’s hand, and really figuring out what’s going to give them comfort.”

“It’s about holding a patient’s hand, and really figuring out what’s going to give them comfort.”

When asked what was the most impactful experience during her time in the program?

“America’s Promise,” she said. “I worked with a child who had a chronic illness. Just being able to work with that child and his family throughout the semester was incredible. In clinical you meet a patient and maybe you have an impact, but in the end, you only have eight hours with that person. Having a semester-long relationship with a patient and their family through America’s Promise was so powerful.”

America’s Promise School Project (APSP) is MCN’s answer to the decrease in pediatric clinical opportunities available to students, and not just MCN students. Because of the way healthcare is shifting and how care is now being delivered, nursing schools nationwide are changing the way they approach pediatric experiences for their students.

Under America’s Promise, the clinical experience for MCN’s traditional and accelerated B.S.N. programs is reimagined, with an emphasis on pediatric and public health. The newly designed and tested pediatric clinical model places undergraduate students at elementary and secondary school sites and is built in accordance with America’s Promise Alliance’s mission to improve the health and well-being of children.

The semester-long clinical experience cumulates in a home care plan for the family of the patient, prepared by the student.

“The family I was paired with… struggled. So I shared resources for how to not only care for the sick child but also that child’s siblings. Oftentimes, siblings of sick children struggle because they might not feel like they are loved, or as special. I love that whole part – caring for the whole family. The parents, the siblings, and the kid. Because when that kid goes home, it’s their parents and their siblings who are there with them. It’s not the nurse. So to provide continuity of care and give them the best outcomes, it’s all about the family,” Sierra explains. “It was so empowering to talk with the family about the situation and do what I could in my capacity as a nursing student.”

Sierra’s passion for pediatrics is obvious. “I want to be a peds nurse,” she says. And then, with a laugh, “Actually, I WILL be a peds nurse. I accepted a job!”

Hired by one of the best.

Sierra didn’t accept just any job. She accepted a job at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, one of the top pediatric hospitals in the world.

“I’ll be in the special resource unit, which means I will float to every single unit on the hospital. At first, the idea of that was a little intimidating, but honestly, I’m really excited. I will get to experience a bit of every single thing in pediatrics.”

When asked what she is most excited for?

“Learning,” She says without pause. “I have the most amazing opportunity to learn from one of the top children’s hospitals in the world. People from all over the world come to that hospital for treatment. It’s going to be amazing.”

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