PHS Alum Credits HS Community for Perspective

Ponderosa Alum Credits High School Community for Perspective on Nursing
Posted on 10/13/2021

Ponderosa Alum Credits High School Community for Perspective on Nursing

Maddison Wilson graduated from Ponderosa High School in 2016. Now the former Mustang spends her nights working with COVID patients on the third floor of Sky Ridge Medical Center. Stacy Blaylock, DCSD Communications Coordinator, sat down with Wilson to see how she got to where she is today.

What are you doing at Sky Ridge Medical Center?
I work the night shift as a Nurse Extern on the Medical Services floor. Typically, after I get a report from the day shift team, I grab vitals from patients and see what they need to get ready for bed and assess their other needs. From there, I answer call lights and help the nurses. The Medical Services unit is currently the COVID unit for people who don’t need to be in the ICU. That’s where we’ve cohorted all our COVID patients, so they’re all on one floor, one unit.

What kind of challenges come along with caring for COVID patients?
A lot of the needs for those patients are more acute than those of a patient you would typically see on a medical services floor. When they want to move around the room, they really need a staff member in there, and that’s where my role comes in as a Nurse Extern. I’m able to step in and help them with those needs. Even just moving from the bed to the recliner is the biggest struggle for those patients, but it makes the biggest difference in their day and their journey with their health.

What patients would you usually see?
Usually, we would get a lot of surgical patients, like appendectomies, just people who aren’t super medically stable. They’re not quite ready for discharge, and they need to stay in the hospital. We also see a lot of septic patients too. A lot of infections. Just unknown stuff that people are in the hospital for.

What’s it been like having to dedicate a lot of your work to COVID patients?
Working with COVID patients has impacted my life and what I can share with others. It’s been an incredible experience for me. It’s the most giving area I could be in right now. I think that I’m meant to be working with COVID patients.

How do you get through the challenging moments?
In our community on the third floor in Medical Services, we lean on each other so much. We’ve been working with COVID patients for so long now that we know what each other needs and how to help each other when we can tell that someone else isn’t doing well. I think it’s really important we’ve seen that in each other and realize how to help each other as a team.

Also, just having a good support system outside of work. It’s tough for people to understand what I see through layers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). For me, it’s super intense. It’s really hard to reiterate to someone and have them truly understand what’s going on when they’re not in my shoes—just having that support outside of work from friends and family who are willing just to be there and listen.

How did you get to where you are now?
When I graduated high school, I initially went to the University of Northern Colorado to pursue a nursing degree. It wasn’t the right fit for me, so I ended up moving back home. I started applying to all the different hospitals. I had volunteered at Sky Ridge in high school, so they were already on my radar. I initially got hired at Sky Ridge on the sixth floor, which is medical services in oncology. I then moved down to the third floor when I was a CNA. I’m in nursing school now at Platt College of Nursing.

How did you end up volunteering at Sky Ridge Medical Center in the first place?
I remember my older brother who did shadowing experience through another hospital, and I liked what he had to share. Then a family friend mentioned there were volunteer opportunities at local hospitals. It would be a good time to check out the hospital environment and see if it’s right for me and get my foot in the door to my career. So I did a simple Google search.

Was there anything in high school that you feel helped you prepare for this type of role?
High school is such a crucial time. It’s hard, but just learning through all the different teachers and the different classes and the expectations of all those different people. I think a lot of the teachers I had prepared me. I think this goes for any career you pick. Just the classroom rules, even though they’re tough and tedious, they really do help you grow and figure out what you want to do.

Ponderosa is a smaller school, so it taught me a lot about community. Especially what it means to love your community, I think that the community aspect and helping each other out shaped a lot about what being a nurse means to me.

Is there a positive high school memory that sticks out to you?
I loved every year’s Wish Week with the Make-a-Wish Foundation. That was always really cool because it was a little bit into healthcare, too. I was involved in Student Government, and we played a huge role in putting everything together. Even though they were fun events, they had a super special, meaningful background that empowered a lot of people. It enlightened me. It made me want to do healthcare even more just because of the opportunities outside of the hospital world.

What was one unique thing you learned about yourself, thanks to Ponderosa?
Honestly, I think that you can come from any background and anywhere and you’re loved. You’re always loved. I think that was really special for me. It is super applicable to healthcare because it doesn’t matter where the patient comes from or anything like that. I can still love them. That’s one thing Ponderosa taught me. You don’t need to have anything special about you. Someone’s always there to love you.

What else do you hope to accomplish in the future?
A lot! I obviously have a huge passion for nursing, but I want to go a little bit further. I think it would be awesome to go back to school and do more things in nursing. I think being a nurse practitioner would be incredible to help people one step further. I heard so many amazing stories about nurse practitioners and how they can impact the world.

What would be your advice to a high school student currently considering a career in healthcare?
Healthcare is incredible! It’s so much fun! I’ve taken a little less traditional route getting through my nursing degree. Just always explore your options. Working at the hospital, I’ve gained so much insight into what kind of nurse I want to be. Healthcare is so unique in that you can make it what you want. Once you become a nurse on a medical service unit, you don’t have to stay in that unit. You can explore other paths, like travel nursing. You can leave the country. You can do whatever you want, which I think is super awesome.

Thanks for sitting down with me and sharing your perspective, Maddison!
Sure thing, you’re welcome!

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