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In these scrubs


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tiffany Maduakolam, a UIC Nursing senior graduating in May, knew she would likely never again put on her student scrubs, as all clinicals and classes were going virtual for the remainder of the semester. She wanted to find a way to mark the abrupt end to her in-person college experience, so she posted a photo of herself on Facebook with a few reflections. Other seniors responded with their own stories and gave us permission to share them.

UIC College of Nursing students reflect on the sudden end to their in-person college experience due to COVID-19. See the full text of each student’s piece below.

Tiffany Maduakolam

“The first time I wore these scrubs, I was terrified and afraid of what was to come. I arrived to clinical one hour early and stood outside for at least 10 minutes wondering if I was good enough, ready enough or smart enough. When it got too cold outside, I stormed in while reciting my positive self-talk: ‘You got this, Tiff. You can do this.’

In these scrubs, I’ve watched life begin and end. I’ve been called a blessing, a mother, a best friend, a companion, God-sent and a hero.

In these scrubs, I learned. I learned compassion, patience, empathy and love. I learned to ask questions and speak up. I learned the famous nursing adage: “If you don’t chart it, it didn’t happen.”

In these scrubs, I cried. I cried a whole lot – both tears of joy and defeat. I cried at my first delivery, the first time I saw quadruplets, and in the NICU. I cried with my suicidal client, with my 17-year-old client who had no family and with my 90-year-old client afraid to die alone.

In these scrubs, I found love: Love for medicine and patient care. I found love for psychiatry and neurology.

In these scrubs, I fell in love with the human brain. In these scrubs, I witnessed miracles. I met great souls. I built great relationships with my peers and faculty.

In these scrubs, I lived.”

Tiffany Maduakolam
Lauren Yates

I remember my first clinical in these scrubs at Northwestern. I remember being partnered with a classmate as we shared one patient together. I remember being terrified to walk into the patient’s room because I had no idea what I was doing. I remember being blessed with a clinical instructor that pushed me, quizzed me, and made me a better nursing student every time I walked into the hospital. I remember my first patient as a nursing student. She had been a nurse herself and she told me, “you are going to make a great nurse one day.”

In these scrubs, I learned. I learned so much. Not only did I learn the skills of nursing practice, (priming a line, inserting IVs, inserting a Foley catheter, giving medication, wound changes, etc.) I learned how to be a better nurse. I learned how to comfort patients when they are scared. I learned how to listen to patients in a time of need. I learned how to support my fellow healthcare team.

In these scrubs, I have met patients that I will never forget, patients that will always have a place in my heart.

In these scrubs, I have cried. I have seen people “code” and die right before my eyes. I have seen patients cry in pain. I have seen patients get news that there is nothing more the healthcare team can do to save his or her life. I have seen a baby born blue, not breathing.

In these scrubs, I have met friends that feel like family. I met amazing clinical instructors that have greatly impacted the type of nurse I will be. I met teachers who truly care for their students.

Most importantly, in these scrubs I fell in love with nursing. It’s not always happy but it is always rewarding. Every day I go to work, I know that I will make a difference in someone’s life that day, or someone will make a difference in mine. I am so proud to call myself a nurse.

Lauren Yates
Annette Lopez

In these scrubs, I have gone through two difficult and life changing years of nursing school. The person in these scrubs on her first day of clinical wouldn’t recognize the person who wears them now. In the beginning, I used to introduce myself to patients as “just a nursing student.” Now, I proudly introduce myself to them as “Annette, a future nurse.”

In these scrubs, I have gained confidence in my abilities. I have done things that I wasn’t sure I could ever do: injections, IVs, blood draws, etc. I have learned how to prioritize tasks, provide patient education, advocate for my patients, and so much more.

In these scrubs, I have met role models and mentors who have changed my view on what it means to be a nurse. I have made strong bonds with amazing friends that have stood by me throughout nursing school. I am more grateful for them than they could possibly know.

In these scrubs, I have consoled scared patients and their worried loved ones. I have given advice and encouragement to first-time mothers. I have given my shoulder to cry on after ‘code blues.’ I have helped reunite family members with an unconscious and dying patient. I have cried, hugged, laughed and shared stories with people I would have never met before. I am grateful that they allowed me into their lives.

In these scrubs, I learned to love my profession. I am so glad I chose this path. I can’t wait to start my journey as a newly graduated nurse. I want to make an impact on the lives of my patients as they are people who deserve compassionate and holistic care.

In these scrubs, I have found myself to be more than ‘just a nursing student.'”

Annette Lopez
Vincent Gebala

In these scrubs, I have survived. I have survived coffee spills and emesis and ‘code browns.’ I have gone through codes and rapid responses. I have cared for patients on the verge of death, and I have helped mothers bring babies into the world.

In these scrubs, I have learned a lot. I learned that nursing goes beyond the bedside. I learned the ICU may not be the only place I want to work. I learned that a great nurse-to-nurse hand off helps make the shift go better. I learned that nursing is my true passion.

In these scrubs, I met people I will never forget. I have met patients who have made an impact on how my nursing care will be. I have met students who have given me words of inspiration when I needed it the most. I have met faculty who have the best intentions for their students. These scrubs have made a significant impact on the rest of my life. I have survived in these scrubs. I have met people I will never forget in these scrubs.

In these scrubs, I have lived.”

Vincent Gebala
Caroline Pach

In these scrubs, I have been able to help birth babies into the world. I have been able to take care of babies the size of my hand. I have been able to take care of babies whose mothers could not care for them.

In these scrubs, I have been able to walk alongside those on the road to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Some I have not been able to help due to an overdose. Some, I had to see go back to prison. I have been able to take care of incarcerated men who others may not even think twice about.

In these scrubs, I have been able to help support and cope with someone who just got diagnosed with HIV.

In these scrubs, I have cared for suicidal patients. I have cared for people who can’t move their bodies and can’t talk, but still have brain function. I have cared for patients who have been shot and burned. As a nursing student, I have traveled across state lines to help rebuild houses that were destroyed in tropical storms. I have been able to travel to Puerto Rico and provide aid to those who have not had power in their homes for two years.

In these scrubs, I have learned that hard work is extremely undervalued, and respect is earned and not given. I have experienced true loyalty and nonjudgmental, nontoxic relationships.

In these scrubs, I have learned that human beings are resilient. We are fighters.”

Caroline Pach