For COM LVN students of the year, loss inspires compassion

From left, COM President Beth Lewis, COM board of trustees member Rachel Delgado, COM student Stephanie Macaluso, COM student Shawna Courtney, COM Director of Nursing Jere Hammer and COM Vice President for Instruction Pam Millsap

Hospitals formed the backdrop of much of Stephanie Macaluso’s life.
 
“I’ve had health issues throughout my life,” said Macaluso, of Santa Fe. “I had a little girl who passed away after 22 days.”
 
Her experiences spurred her to come to the College of the Mainland Licensed Vocational Nursing Program so she could offer other families the support that nurses gave her.
 
“I want to pay it forward,” said Macaluso. “I want to be that family’s backbone.”
 
Making a difference even while in nursing school as interim president and later co-president of the COM Vocational Nursing Student Organization, Macaluso excelled in academics and service.
 
“At the beginning of the year we went to the Ronald McDonald House and served breakfast,” said Macaluso. “It was one of our service projects. I liked giving back.”
 
Between the student organization and class, she also bonded with friends to work together to master challenging subjects.
 
She needed their support when during the program she had health scares, which later turned out to be false.
 
“There were nights I’d lie in bed and question, ‘Am I strong enough to do this?’” Macaluso remembered. “But it was all worth it.”
 
Named COM Licensed Vocational Nursing Student of the Year at the recent pinning ceremony, she has encouraged other students.
 
“She is very well-rounded and has good critical thinking skills,” said Debbie Smith, COM Vocational Nurse Program Coordinator. “She can calmly find solutions to problems and that is what stood out to us.”
 
Now a COM graduate, she looks toward her next goal.
 
“I’m interested in ICU. I’m transitioning to the (COM Associate Degree Nursing Program) in May,” said Macaluso.
 
“You always have that one nurse that you remember. I want to be that nurse.”
 
For Shawna Courtney, of Santa Fe, having several family members pass away inspired her passion for hospice care.
 
“I saw how (nurses) worked with the family and the patient,” said Courtney. “I want to give back (what) they did for my family.”
 
Coming to the COM Vocational Nursing Program, Courtney enrolled in hands-on classes and conducted clinicals at a long-term care facility and hospice.
 
Instructors voted she receive the Outstanding Clinical Award at the pinning ceremony Dec. 16.

“When she enters a patient’s room, she has a joyful demeanor and that helps them have a bright day,” said Smith. “She make people feel good.”
 
Her excellence has already paid off.
 
“I got a job today … at Regency Village Nursing Home in Webster,” said Courtney.
 
Courtney plans to enroll in the COM Associate Degree Nursing Program LVN to RN track to become a registered nurse while working at the nursing home.
 
“I will work as much as I can to get experience,” said Courtney. “I love the elderly.”

The COM Licensed Vocational Nursing Program is a one-year program approved by the Texas Board of Nursing. Graduates are eligible to apply for licensure by examination as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs).

The average pass rate for COM LVN grads is more than 97 percent.

The COM Nursing Program also offers a LVN to RN track. Licensed vocational nurse applicants that want to transition to the registered nurse role should apply by Jan. 15 for fall 2015 admission.

For more information on the program, call 409-933-8246 or visit www.com.edu/nursing.

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