Alumni Spotlight: Mackenzie Glashow, RN
MSN, RN, MEDSURG-BC, CNL
As a nurse, you treat all patients the same, but there are some you connect with more than others. In my first year as a registered nurse, I was caring for a patient in the intensive care unit. He and I shared similar interests and connected right away. He knew I was brand new to nursing and did not make me feel inferior due to my limited experience. He would often say “You can do this” and allowed me to take my time inserting IVs or administering medication. He had a confidence in me that I did not have in myself at the time. He used to sing to me; he was so sweet and cared so much about me, when I was there to care for him. As his illness progressed, I would sit with him and hold his hand, even though just three months prior we had been strangers. He showed me that I can build relationships with patients in just a short period of time. I still hold this patient close to my heart.
Today, I work with patients in a 74-bed hospital in Providence, where I serve as a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL). I started my nursing career as a medical-surgical telemetry nurse. Within a couple of years, I advanced into the CNL role. In this role, I educate patients and staff to ensure we are providing evidence-based care and help bring new technology to the bedside so that we can offer the best and safest care for our patients. As my role has developed, I have expanded my work to include three inpatient units: a medical-surgical telemetry unit, a stepdown unit, and the COVID unit.
As a CNL, I serve as the bridge between the clinical and the administrative sides of nursing. I get the best of both worlds, and I am happy with that balance because I always want to stay knowledgeable and be a resource for nurses. I maintain the intricacies of clinical information by volunteering for the American Nurses Credentialing Center and help write and revise the Medical-Surgical Board Certification exam.
What I love about nursing is seeing an immediate impact in a patient’s life. I can sit and hold a patient’s hand and make them feel better; that simple act is unbelievably valuable. Our patients cannot have visitors right now, so nurses become their family and closest human connection. The patients that we care for are often older and some are in end-of-life care. That is a difficult stage of care, but it is an honor to be able to help patients feel comfortable and at peace as they pass. To be a voice and an advocate for patients is an incredible gift.
Being a nurse during a pandemic is a challenge I never thought I would face. We have had to adapt and push ourselves more than ever before. As the CNL, I was tasked with orienting all new nursing staff who were hired at the beginning of the pandemic, and I continue to do this today. I ensure everyone working on the inpatient units, regardless of their scope, feels confident in the care they are providing and are competent in the skills they perform. Finding the perfect fit in our hospital can be tricky, as our patient population is different than many other facilities. We serve veterans. Caring for veterans requires a unique skillset and understanding of various events that have occurred in the past. This allows us to anticipate challenges and mitigate concerns for our veterans. For example, our Vietnam veterans often present with unique diagnoses that challenge nurses to be knowledgeable in all aspects of their disease. For our few remaining World War II veterans, certain sounds from our equipment can be quite startling to them and cause unexpected reactions. Understanding that background plays an integral role in the patient experience, and being able to anticipate these challenges helps provide optimal outcomes.
The healthcare industry definitely needs more nurses. Young nurses—in age or experience in the field—are always amazing. They bring so much energy and desire to improve clinical healthcare. I am so excited that New England College is launching a nursing program to get more nurses into clinical settings. I don’t know any other nurses in Rhode Island who went to NEC, but I hope that changes as a result of this program.
I found my calling in nursing, but it was a winding path to get there. Part of why I chose NEC was because it has been an important place for my family. My parents met at NEC, and my older sister was already a student there when my twin and I started at NEC. My mom and sister became teachers, and I had always thought that would be my path as well. I started as an education major, but even in my freshman year, I felt like something was missing. The beauty of attending a liberal arts college was that I could take any class I wanted. I took classes in multiple disciplines and found that biology was the one that really challenged me, and I liked the future possibilities that biology offered.
After graduation, I had no intention of becoming a nurse. I pursued a career in biomedical research, but I lost touch with how my work was benefiting others. I then went into cancer clinical research, which allowed me to meet patients participating in clinical trials. That was when I realized I wanted to help care for people and become a nurse. I earned my Master of Science in Nursing from the University of New Hampshire and have never looked back.
Sometimes I wish that NEC had a nursing program when I was there. I do not believe, however, that I would have followed that path when I was in college. My path was unique and full of unexpected turns, but I know that I am where I am today because of all the different stops on my journey.
This spotlight was published in the Spring 2022 edition of the New England College Magazine.
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