Regis Nursing Students Jackie Gorman ABSN ’21 and Beth Bunnell ABSN ’22 lend the CDC a hand to promote deep cleaning.

If you were in charge of creating educational messages about infection prevention for the CDC, who would you consult for expertise? Tasked with this challenge, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses developed the AWHONN Student Initiative in which nursing students from around the country were selected to craft educational modules. Jackie Gorman ABSN ’21 and Beth Bunnell ABSN ’22 were among 40 students nationally who collaborated with Abby Carlson MD of the CDC’s Project FirstLine.

Beth Bunnell and child enjoy a coffee“For me, there’s a very human piece to it,” Bunnell recalled. “It’s not just ‘Do we wash our hands because we’re supposed to?’ It’s like, what does washing our hands look like months down the road for someone who has a premature baby, for someone who is immunocompromised.”

In their conversation with Regis College Assistant Professor Lawana Brown, Gorman and Bunnell reflected on the apprehensions prospective nursing students today might be feeling about pursuing the profession during a pandemic.

Jackie Gorman head shot“When people talk about nursing schools, they talk about it like it’s a great feat—hardest four years of my life,” Gorman says. “It is possible to find work/family life balance but I think it takes a certain amount of boundaries and I did feel very safe being a student during the pandemic. Regis did a lot of work to make sure we were protected. So, if someone is worried about that, there are a lot of people working behind the scenes to make sure that you’re going to be okay. I would tell them if you’re on the fence, don’t let those things get in the way. You will figure it out. There’s a huge support system available.”

After applying to participate in the initiative, Gorman and Bunnell were asked to complete 4 educational modules for the CDC by mid-November. Their work can be found through the CDC and on YouTube (search “Dr. Abby Carlson”).

“As empowering as it is to be with a patient, you really do have to protect yourself,” Gorman says, adding, about her profession, “There’s no greater definition for how to care for someone than just saying ‘I’m a nurse.’”