Chronic Illness Inspires Graduating Rutgers‒Camden Nursing Student to Join the Fight Against COVID-19

 

Kelsey Goodwin

By Jeanne Leong

When remote learning replaced in-person classes due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rutgers University‒Camden nursing student Kelsey Goodwin was concerned that she would miss the full experience of doing clinical rotations and working directly with patients.

Thanks to Rutgers–Camden’s partnerships with area hospitals, she secured an externship to help care for COVID-19 patients.

“I feel lucky that I get to learn beside some amazing nurses,” Goodwin says of her temporary position at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly. “Despite it being really busy on the floor, they always take the time to teach me what they are doing.”

In March, just two months before completing an accelerated bachelor of science degree in nursing, she was eager to help as the number of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey began to soar, along with the demand for help in hospitals.

“When clinicals moved to online halfway through the semester, I was finally feeling comfortable in my role as becoming a provider, so I felt sad having it taken away,” says the Delran resident. “I’m glad Rutgers and Virtua provided me with this opportunity to help.”

Goodwin’s interest in nursing stems from her personal experience with nurses who cared for her when she was hospitalized for a chronic illness.

“At the time, I truly thought that my dreams of being in health care were over,” says Goodwin.

One of her nurses encouraged her to accept her illness and to work to overcome any obstacles that she encounters.

“Every time I’ve had a hiccup on the road to becoming a nurse, I’ve looked at it like something to work through,” says Goodwin. “My health issues have made me a better caregiver because I have empathy for my patients, because I’ve been in their shoes.”

Goodwin says her experiences have taught her to be resilient and empathetic – skills that are useful in life and in her nursing career.

After suspending her undergraduate education at Stockton University because of her health issues, she completed her undergraduate degree in health sciences at Rutgers‒Camden in 2018, and enrolled in the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden’s 15-month accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another major.

Goodwin hopes to pursue a career in critical care and provide the same excellent treatment she received from her nurses when she was a patient.

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