“It’s never been more meaningful what a nurse does”

“It’s never been more meaningful what a nurse does”
Heather Bilkes, the Director of Champlain College’s nursing program with laboratory technician and nurse Samuel Dupont Desbiens. (Photo : Matthew McCully)

By Gordon Lambie

Looking back on the last year, Tanya Marisa Rodrigues said that being a part of the Champlain College DEC-BAC nursing program has been a real rollercoaster ride.
“It was kind of an adventure, and it definitely had its ups and downs,” the second-year nursing student reflected, tracing students’ paths from the uncertainty of the initial shutdown last spring through the realization that COVID was not a short-term phenomenon, and out the other side with a move to learn in new ways and figure out how to remain involved even as the world constantly shifted around them. “We all had to adapt very fast,” she said.
With the stressors of a global pandemic piled on top of the existing challenges of learning how to be a nurse, Rodrigues named two things that played a very important role in her decision to carry on with her studies: volunteering and the support of her program and peers.
“I have this feeling that because Champlain is a small community; we tend to look after each other more,” she said, sharing that the small class size of the college program worked to students’ advantage in this case because they were all able to lean on one another amid mounting uncertainty about the world in general and more specific issues like whether or not they would be able to go out on their planned internships. “I would give Champlain nursing an A grade. The teachers really did their best.”
“It’s never been more meaningful what a nurse does,” said Heather Bilkes, the Director of the college’s nursing program, pointing out that although the program is always meant to give hands-on experience through its internships, the inescapable reality of COVID-19 in the world of healthcare this past year meant that students were in the thick of things more than ever before. “You’re not just a student learning something, you’re a part of it,” she said. “This is really real life.”
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