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For most of her life, Mary Grace Nichols ’22 knew she wanted to be a nurse. She toured several colleges, but as soon as she visited EC, saw the campus, reviewed the nursing school facilities and met the professors, she trusted this was the place for her.
"I looked at every other school possible but the nursing program here was like no other," she said.
Her time at EC broadened her horizons and gave her a new passion to pursue. When Nichols started at EC, she planned on being an emergency room or intensive care unit nurse. She had a great Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) opportunity in high school that exposed her to clinical-like scenarios in those fields. However, after experiencing the pediatrics rotation at EC, she found a new passion – helping kids.
Although her experience was interrupted somewhat by remote learning, the faculty created an online learning environment that worked. They had online simulations and studied from real-life case studies. At first, Nichols worried that she wouldn't be as prepared because she had to be remote for nearly a year due to the pandemic. But after she returned to campus and participated in clinicals, she put those fears to bed.
"This year showed me how much I actually know," she said. "Seeing all of these different cases in clinicals, I can see how much I learned over the past four years. I know I will be successful."
For Nichols, starting the clinical experience in her sophomore year was pivotal in developing key, basic nursing skills as well as professional skills such as communication. Added to that, she benefitted from the guided simulations held in EC's simulation labs with its high-fidelity mannequins Hal, Victoria, and Andy. Her simulation team worked through intense scenarios and then watched their recordings and evaluated their performance, looking for ways to improve. Beyond technical skills, Nichols feels well-prepared to network and interview. In one course, she heard from industry professionals, including community nurses, about building a nursing resume and they conducted mock interviews specific to the types of roles she's interested in.
Overall, Elmira College's small class sizes, faculty-student relationships, and real-world applications drew Nichols to EC and has made her experience life-changing.