Cecilia Garcia, a student in Shenandoah University’s adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner program (AGPCNP), is one of nine students from across the country to win a National League for Nursing (NLN)-Home Instead Scholarship in Geriatric Nursing Education.
“Earlier this year, the NLN Foundation and Home Instead Senior Care joined forces to foster and promote geriatric nursing education through a scholarship fund, with scholarships to be awarded to nursing students enrolled in such courses of study,” states a press release about the scholarship. “Because adults aged 65 and older in the United States and throughout the world account for an increasing proportion of the population, there is widespread acknowledgement that nursing school graduates must be better prepared to deliver outstanding, culturally sensitive care to older adults in hospital, clinical and outpatient community settings.”
A blessing in disguise
Garcia is a registered nurse, who currently works as a cardiac critical care nurse in the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus and takes master’s-level courses at Shenandoah’s facilities at the Inova Center for Personalized Health in Fairfax, Virginia. During her interview for the AGPCNP program, she first learned of the scholarship from Assistant Professor Robbie McCauley, DNP, through information provided by Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing Dean Kathleen LaSala.
It was simply a kind gesture that turned into a blessing in disguise. I did not expect to get it, and I honestly applied and forgot about it, thinking I was never going to get it. I was very surprised when I received the news that I was one of the recipients, especially being one of the first to receive this particular scholarship. With adult-gerontology being such a newer specialty in the nurse practitioner world, I figured whatever help I could get would be a wonderful start to my graduate career. I am truly grateful, especially being provided information as a stranger, who was still in the interview process for the program. Being accepted into the program and receiving the scholarship, just a few months apart, was truly a blessing.”
A university different from the norm
Garcia said she decided to apply to Shenandoah after encountering its nursing students and also hearing good things about its nursing program.
Being from Northern Virginia, there are many schools around here that are sort of the default, because they are local and close. I wanted to attend a university different from the norm. When I found out that Shenandoah was starting a new nurse practitioner program for the specialty that I am passionate about, I could not resist inquiring. I also learned that the program was taking place in Northern Virginia, across from my hospital. Being a nurse product of Inova, I could not let an opportunity like that pass; it was just the perfect opportunity and perfect time to choose Shenandoah. I am looking forward to this program, and exposing it to aspiring adult-geriatric nurse practitioners here in Northern Virginia.”
Garcia said she decided to focus on the specialty because she’s always had a “soft spot” for the geriatric population. Additionally, she said her Filipino culture played a role. “We were taught as children to respect our elders, and to take care of our elders, and with that comes many blessings. Adult and geriatric patients are filled with so many experiences, knowledge, and life lessons that have shaped the way I think and perceive situations,” she said.
It’s also a population she works with often in the CCU.
We take care of very ill patients and experience many ethical issues and patient situations. A typical ethical issue we would encounter would be a patient of the adult-geriatric population, very ill with poor prognosis, and not having the proper code status to keep them comfortable. Patients with poor outcomes in their health should have the decision on how they want to live their remaining days. Hospice and palliative care are often consulted in these cases, and goals of care are discussed to determine the patient’s and family’s wishes. For patients who are terminal, comfort should be the main priority. Through these experiences, I have developed a genuine interest in hospice and palliative care, and would like to become a nurse practitioner and an advocate for patients and families experiencing difficult decisions and circumstances.”
More information about the scholarship is available online at nln.org/newsroom/news-releases/news-release/2018/09/04/nln-announces-2018-grant-and-scholarship-winners. Learn more about Shenandoah’s nursing program at su.edu/nursing.