Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Well-being

Fostering Connection Through Diversity Unites Nursing Students During the Global Pandemic

May 17, 2022 Washington State University Health Sciences Episode 9
Fostering Connection Through Diversity Unites Nursing Students During the Global Pandemic
Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Well-being
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Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Well-being
Fostering Connection Through Diversity Unites Nursing Students During the Global Pandemic
May 17, 2022 Episode 9
Washington State University Health Sciences

Sue McFadden is a Nurse Practitioner and Associate Professor in the Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing in Spokane. During the pandemic, she was matched with a new group of nine students whose class time was facilitated via Zoom. Five of Sue’s students share the unique path that brought them together, how they fostered connection through their diverse backgrounds and experiences during the pandemic, and where they “find joy” in their personal and academic lives. 

“Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Well-being" is a podcast resource developed by a team of interprofessional education researchers from Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane. They’re promoting well-being among students, faculty, and healthcare professionals during challenging times. Funding is provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The Interprofessional Education Research team wishes to thank the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this project:

• Dr. Barb Richardson, nurse, educator, and interprofessional champion;

• Cameron Cupp, creator of the “Finding Joy” musical score and current enrollee at WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine;

• Washington State University staff from Marketing and Communications, Financial Services, and the Collaboration for Interprofessional Health Education Research and Scholarship; and

• Claire Martin-Tellis, Executive Producer, and Solen Aref, student intern, who developed the first five episodes of the “Finding Joy” podcast.

This episode of “Finding Joy” was produced by Doug Nadvornick, Program Director, Spokane Public Radio.

If you would like to reach out, please contact our team by sending an email to: medicine.ipoc@wsu.edu We also encourage you to visit our podcast blog as well as our team's website at: https://opioideducation.wsu.edu/about/.

Show Notes Transcript

Sue McFadden is a Nurse Practitioner and Associate Professor in the Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing in Spokane. During the pandemic, she was matched with a new group of nine students whose class time was facilitated via Zoom. Five of Sue’s students share the unique path that brought them together, how they fostered connection through their diverse backgrounds and experiences during the pandemic, and where they “find joy” in their personal and academic lives. 

“Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Well-being" is a podcast resource developed by a team of interprofessional education researchers from Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane. They’re promoting well-being among students, faculty, and healthcare professionals during challenging times. Funding is provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The Interprofessional Education Research team wishes to thank the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this project:

• Dr. Barb Richardson, nurse, educator, and interprofessional champion;

• Cameron Cupp, creator of the “Finding Joy” musical score and current enrollee at WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine;

• Washington State University staff from Marketing and Communications, Financial Services, and the Collaboration for Interprofessional Health Education Research and Scholarship; and

• Claire Martin-Tellis, Executive Producer, and Solen Aref, student intern, who developed the first five episodes of the “Finding Joy” podcast.

This episode of “Finding Joy” was produced by Doug Nadvornick, Program Director, Spokane Public Radio.

If you would like to reach out, please contact our team by sending an email to: medicine.ipoc@wsu.edu We also encourage you to visit our podcast blog as well as our team's website at: https://opioideducation.wsu.edu/about/.

This is “Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Wellness and Resiliency.” It’s a podcast resource developed by a team of interprofessional education researchers from Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane. They’re promoting wellness among students, faculty, and healthcare professionals during challenging times. Funding is provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration. 

 

[theme music]

 

I’m Doug Nadvornick. 

 

During the Covid pandemic, we’ve heard much about life’s challenges, but there have been successes as well. In this podcast, we’ll tell you the story of a group of nine Washington State University nursing students and their instructor who, for a semester, worked together and developed close relationships. At a time when non-family members were asked, for safety reasons, to stay physically distant from each other, this group’s members managed to forge tight bonds and help each other through an unusually tough time. We’ll talk with five of them and their instructor in this episode of Finding Joy. 

 

[fade music]

 

We start with Sue McFadden. McFadden is a nurse practitioner and educator in the WSU College of Nursing in Spokane. Every semester she is matched with a group of 8-10 undergraduate students who take classes and do clinical work together.

 

Sue McFadden: “They come into the program and it really is like having a full-time job, with their clinical experiences and their intense classroom experience and it just works more effectively if they feel supported from their classmates and that’s been more true during the pandemic.”

 

In January 2021, McFadden was matched with her new group for spring semester. 

 

Sue McFadden: “What was unique about this group, we had one who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and another whose parents were refugees from Laos and she’s the youngest of 10. Another came into the nursing program after a stint in Afghanistan. He was an Army veteran. A couple of students were ROTC and have their Army time in the future. It was a very diverse group.”

 

At the time, WSU classes were limited to Zoom meetings, though her students were allowed to continue with their in-person clinical opportunities. Many of those were in long-term care settings, but they also participated in Covid vaccination clinics. 

 

Sue McFadden: “We worked with the Asian and Pacific Islander community and it was exciting because we had a student who spoke Korean and we had a student who spoke Hmong. We had a student who spoke Burmese and the one student who got to use her foreign language skills that particular day was Spanish-speaking.”

 

But much of the students’ time together was virtual and McFadden tried to make sure they made the most of it.

 

Sue McFadden: “We just tried to be really intentional about finding ways to have them support one another and I, frankly, didn’t know how that was going to be because of the diversity within the group.”

 

[music theme]

 

Let’s meet five of those nine students. Andrea [on-DRAY-uh] Smith is from Spokane.

 

Andrea Smith: “But I was born in Chile and when my mom moved here with my dad, she went into nursing and she worked at Sacred Heart for about 15 or so years. She recently retired and she really got me interested in the medical field so I always knew it was something I wanted to do.”

 

Desiree Sebastian: “Hi, I’m Desiree Sebastian. I am from Honolulu, Hawaii. I was born and raised there as well. For me, nursing was something dear to my heart as I’ve gone on a mission trip. It was an immersion trip through my high school. It was an outreach program to the people of Kalaupapa and it was a way to give back to the patients that have been isolated and have been neglected from Hansen’s disease.”

 

Hansen’s disease is another term for leprosy. Kalaupapa is an area on the Hawaiian island of Molokai where people with Hansen’s disease were once sent to live together, apart from the general community. A few people still live there.

 

Desiree Sebastian: “So that is one of the reasons I really wanted to give back to my community and become a nurse as nurses were their only family growing up on that isolated peninsula.”

  

Isabella Romero: “Hi, my name is Isabella. I’m originally from Colorado, born and raised there. I come from a military family. My dad was a corpsman in the Navy so he’s the one who got me interested in the medical field to begin with, telling me stories about what to do and being a really hands-on person kind of translated over to me as well, so that’s how I got onto this path and just kept going from there.”

 

Nouci Yang: “My name is Nouci and I was born and raised here in Spokane. The reason I got into nursing was because, at the age of 13, I was a patient myself and just seeing how the hospital works, seeing how the nurses got to build a relationship with me was something that I wanted to do and give back to other people as well and that is why pedes is what I really want to go into.”

 

And finally…

 

Yeonsu Sim: “My name is Yeonsu. I grew up in South Korea until 15 and I came to U.S. in sophomore in high school. I have two older sisters who are nurses. They have been my inspiration and so that’s how I started thinking about a nursing career and, with that career, I can help a lot of people, so that’s why I chose nursing.”

 

Doug: “So how did you get thrown together as a group?”

 

This is Nouci Yang.

 

Nouci Yang: “I think it was completely random. We learned about each other through Zoom and then, on the first day of clinical, I just remember I knew who they were before I even met them in person.”

 

This is Isabella Romero.

 

Isabella Romero: “I would say me and Yeonsu are really lucky. We actually knew each other before we came up here in Pullman and we are a part of ROTC together so we’ve had a lot of time, so it was really nice to be able to see a friendly face up here, because you really don’t know anyone.”

 

Andrea Smith.

 

Andrea Smith: “Yeah, it was pretty funny meeting everyone on Zoom and then in person for the first time, a week or two later. Wow, everyone is a lot shorter than I thought. Everybody looks a lot different. I’m almost like six foot tall, so I think it was equally surprising, but this group of people was the only people I saw the entire year of school, so I think we connected as much as we could, really. And then Sue gave us a lot of opportunity out of the classroom and made it a really casual environment throughout so I could build these relationships that we have today.”

 

Isabella Romero.

 

Isabella Romero: “Everybody was paired up with two or three people. That’s how me and Desiree and Yeonsu first started hanging out and me and Nouci and Sim, we all getting together and having different chats.

 

This is Yeonsu Sim.

 

Yeonsu Sim: “I was glad with how small our group was. If it was more than, like, 20 or 30 people it would have been hard to get to know each other.”

 

Doug: “So, what did that in-person stuff mean for you?”

 

This is Andrea Smith.

 

Andrea Smith: “Good question. For me it was just a chance to meet with people going through the exact same experience I was. I transferred a lot for my undergrad so it was hard knowing anyone in the same program as I was, so for all of us to be doing, to be having the same assignment, the same goals, same struggles, it was very emotionally rewarding. I very much needed that time.”

 

This is Desiree Sebastian.

 

Desiree Sebastian: “I think for me as well, just to add on to what Andrea said, it was a great opportunity to real get to know other people as well. Getting to know someone in person is a lot different from on Zoom. There’s so much we can do on Zoom and we did utilize Zoom in a way to try to interact with one another, but having that in-person physical relationship also, outside of what Zoom is, really made us create a strong bond.”

 

Here’s Yeonsu Sim.

 

Yeonsu Sim: “When I think about Zoom, I’m just like, I don’t want to Zoom anymore. This is way too much. Being in person is way better and with all these people too.”

 

Doug: “So, as the pandemic has morphed and now it looks like it’s easing a little bit, how has the relationship changed? Has it become deeper? Or have you started to pull apart a little bit because you’ve been able to have a little bit more contact with the rest of the world?”

 

This is Desiree Sebastian.

 

Desiree Sebastian: “I think it goes both ways. We do pull apart from time to time because we are meeting new people again and it’s not a bad thing that we are meeting new people. It’s always a good thing. But we know, at the end of the day, we know where our relationships have grown. Like, together in class, we do still sit together because that’s who we know the most and that’s who we get along with well, especially since we do have really big age gaps. So, within our group, the eight of us, I’m actually the youngest and Ryan’s not here, but he’s the oldest out of our group, so seeing the different dynamics and how we’re able to still keep a relationship and still talk about things throughout the day without having to deal with nursing school, even though we are at school, is a great way to get to know each other and still kind of find that base that we did meet together at one point and we did start together because they were the people that we really knew at the beginning of semester throughout Covid and we wouldn’t want to lose a relationship that we built so far.”

 

Here’s Isabella Romero.

 

Isabella Romero: “I’d say we’re gotten pretty close. We try to do some outside school even though we all have crazy schedules and they’re not perfectly aligned. Nouci and Desiree and I will go work out or we’ll all try and get dinner together and we just try and spend as much time as we can together. We’ll just hit study sessions, so it’s really awesome just to be able to know you can text these people and go, ‘Hey, do you want to go work on this in the library?’ And we can be doing completely different things. Just having that person there to interact with and do things with has been really great.”

 

Doug: “So even though you’ve gone through a really unusual situation, it sounds like you all feel like you’ve benefited.”

 

Nouci Yang.

 

Nouci Yang: “Yeah, we definitely have benefited from each other. I actually struggled the most, personally, in the first semester of nursing school because I just felt so overwhelmed and being able to talk with them through it and them helping me, I thought that was just like the biggest blessing that I could ever receive and then, as we talked about Ryan earlier, he has actually been in my group for three semesters now and I have bonded with him so much because we just continue to learn with each other and, for the rest of us, it’s harder because we are not in the same group anymore, so we are separated from each other but I think they are the people that I can go back to if I’m having a hard time or if I can’t do something, they’re there to talk me through it or they’re able to help me.”

 

Doug: “The name of this podcast series is Finding Joy. So I want to know from each of you, how do you find joy these days, both professionally and personally?”

 

Desiree Sebastian.

 

Desiree Sebastian: “I think, for me, I find joy in making other people smile or laugh and also, in general, giving back to others is what I like to do. Professionally, through the College of Nursing, although I don’t have as much clinical days, there are still clinical opportunities through volunteering, such as vaccine clinics, hearing and screening as well. So these are opportunities for me to still give back to the community and see all the pediatric population and still give back. Then, also, I find joy in other people, seeing each other smile, laugh and, when we make jokes in classrooms, we’re all able to still interact and still be on the same page, even though we may all be stressed at the end of the day because we are in nursing school.”

 

Doug: “Andrea?”

 

Andrea Smith: “I guess I really find joy and happiness in sharing experiences because we are doing similar things at the moment and we all have such different perspectives and experiences. Being able to bounce ideas off of each other and having true, honest, open discussions and then a really positive environment. We know we won’t judge each other and we truly take each others’ opinions to heart. Judgment-free zone. That makes me so, it alleviates so much pressure and stress that I might have otherwise and really makes my day better. And, in professional life, it’s just that transfers over so well. I can see the relationships forming between other nurses and how my career might look one day and it really makes me hopeful for the future.”

 

Now, Nouci Yang.

 

Nouci Yang: “I can build off of that. Something that I find joy is just going to the hospital settings and seeing what the nurses do to the patients. That is our future and just seeing how the patients love that care that nurses give them. It’s just something that really motivates me to do better and just knowing that I can make a difference in the future or we can all make a difference in the future makes me so happy about it.”

 

Yeonsu Sim.

 

Yeonsu Sim: “I think, for me, just thinking about my goal, Isabella and I, we’re in the ROTC together and I’m getting closer to my goal to become an officer in the Army one day. I think about that commissioning and my parents come and my dad pins me with the second lieutenant. I think that really gives me joy and motivates me to work harder in the stressful classes and tests and stuff. And, yeah, as Nouci said, in the clinical site, as the parents are really appreciative of the nurses and I can give something to peoples’ lives and help changing peoples’ lives. That gives me joy.”

 

Doug: “Isabella, you get to finish it here.”

 

Isabella Romero: “I have to really agree with Yeonsu. The fact that we’re working toward this big goal of getting into the Army and becoming an officer and then leading others really pushes me to work hard and think that we’re so close to getting there and what really brings me joy in a clinical setting, professionalism, is just that teamwork. It doesn’t matter if it’s another student or a nurse. I know I can go to someone if I’m struggling with, like, a skill or I don’t really know how to talk to a patient or deal with a certain situation. I know I have these people around me who I can ask for help and they’re going to come and help me with that because not everybody’s great at everything. Some people are good at talking to patients. Some people are good at skills. Some people are good at this or that, so it’s good you’re able to rely on these people to help build up the skills you may be lacking in and progress as you go. So that’s been really great experiencing.”

 

That’s Isabella Romero. We’ve also heard from Andrea Smith, Desiree Sebastian, Nouci Yang and Yeonsu Sim. They are five of the nine WSU nursing students, who, In spring semester of 2021, were assigned to Sue McFadden in the WSU College of Nursing. We give her the last word.

 

Sue McFadden: “One of the students whose family is Hmong, they kid each other and were talking about her as kind of the president of the group. She’s the one that still organizes pulling them together. I remember our very last day of clinical. She was sharing with us the cultural norm that they have for soothing illness through food and specifically through chicken soup after the birth of babies. My student Ryan, who is the veteran, was telling us about what he’d experienced in war and also some of the health issues his wife was having. I remember Nouci just being really sincere in saying, ‘Gosh, I want to bring your wife chicken soup. That was the kind of…and then, I happened to have them again in the whole cohort. I teach a second semester class, so I had them as a small group the first semester. I had them in the large group the second semester and it was fun because I’d come into class and there was this group of students sitting together that were a friendly face for me and they’d been to the fair together and continued to support one another along their journey.”

 

Sue McFadden is an advanced registered nurse practitioner and educator in the WSU College of Nursing in Spokane.

 

We thank her and her students for talking with us for this podcast. 

 

The Interprofessional Opioid Curriculum team also wishes to thank these people for their contributions: 

 

• Dr. Barb Richardson, nurse, educator, and interprofessional champion; 

 

• Cameron Cupp, creator of the “Finding Joy” musical score and current enrollee at WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

 

• Washington State University staff from Marketing and Communications, Financial Services, and the Collaboration for Interprofessional Health Education Research and Scholarship; and

 

• Claire Martin-Tellis, Executive Producer, and Solen Aref [so-LEN uh-REF], student intern, who developed the first five episodes of the “Finding Joy” podcast.

 

This episode of “Finding Joy” was produced by Doug Nadvornick from Spokane Public Radio.

If you are interested in sharing your perspective about wellness and resiliency as a healthcare professional or would like to reach out, please contact our team by sending an email to: medicine.ipoc@wsu.edu  We also encourage you to visit our website at: https://opioideducation.wsu.edu/about/.