Robert Morris alumna Pooja Shah earned her bachelor’s in nursing in 2019, less than a year before today’s public health crisis emerged. Now she and her emergency room colleagues are caring for patients on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.
In the ER, Pooja often works with patients dealing with heart attacks, psychiatric illnesses, gunshot wounds or injuries from car accidents. Now most of the patients she sees are suffering from COVID-19 symptoms.
Despite the challenges, Pooja feels well equipped for the unpredictability of the work ahead.
“I received my education at an institution that values hands-on learning, which has helped me exponentially at work,” she said. “My clinical experience prepared me for these stressful times and made me the nurse I am today.”
After earning her associate degree in medical assisting in 2017, Pooja stayed for her nursing degree, BPS and master’s in management, concentrating in health care administration. As a student, Pooja did her clinical rotations at top hospitals across Chicago. She built connections with leading health care providers and gained real-world experience with different patient populations — including at a Level I trauma center like the hospital where she works today.
“These clinical rotations taught me how to stay calm and be quick on my feet during unknown times and stressful situations,” she said.
Recently, for example, a patient arrived in the ER with abdominal pain, but a CT scan also revealed something in her lung. The patient’s fear and anxiety were palpable, heightened by COVID-19. Pooja sat with her and her husband for 15 minutes to reassure them, explaining the precautions her team took to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the ER. The personal connection helped ease the stress of a dire situation.
Some experts are predicting that Chicago coronavirus cases will peak this month. While donations of gloves and masks are crucial, Pooja says that social distancing is the most effective way to support nurses like her.
“Host virtual dance parties, happy hours, meetings and even catch-up sessions,” she said. “But please stay at home, wash your hands and do your part in preventing the spread of this virus.”
The BS in Nursing is one of the many new degree pathways offered at the Robert Morris Experiential College at Roosevelt University. The nationally accredited program thoroughly prepares students to pass required exams and succeed as registered nurses. To request more information, please visit our website.