Skip to Content

College of Nursing

Practice in a Pandemic

These eager RNs spent the last of their senior year adapting to virtual school, mask policies, and pivoting their expectations of traditional graduation. On the first day of work, the graduates of 2020 were greeted with masked smiles and welcomed by their new co-workers. This class has shown resilience and passion for nursing while entering a health care environment filled with uncertainty and frontline fatigue. We admire their commitment to nursing during an overwhelming first year of practice.

When Loribeth Smith graduated and received approval to take her NCLEX exam, the waitlist for anywhere within a 2-hour drive was over six months. Testing centers were only allowing six people at a time, and not all facilities were open.  Smith had a job lined up in Labor & Delivery, a specialized and coveted area, and she wasn’t about to lose her spot. She needed to take the NCLEX as soon as possible and found a testing center available in Miami, FL. Smith shares, “To pick up and head out of state was challenging, but I had worked so hard for four years that taking the 1,000-mile round trip was worth securing my dream job.” Smith is now an RN in Labor & Delivery at Beaufort Memorial in Beaufort, SC, and Colleton Medical Center in Walterboro, SC. Smith says the first year of working has been so unpredictable because of COVID-19. In addition to screenings and PPE requirements, being short-staffed means the possibility of being pulled from one floor to the next without notice. With rising COVID-19 numbers, hospitals want staff vaccinated by a specific date or be faced with job termination. “Nursing is not an easy career on a normal day, but COVID-19 has made it so much more trying. We still push through and fight to protect our patients, our families, and ourselves. Nursing is not a career choice – it’s a love, a passion, and a calling!” Smith exclaims proudly.  Smith says UofSC Nursing prepared her in more ways than she ever thought possible. With challenging and intense classes and clinicals, she feels ready to take on the world. Smith shares, “Our professors pushed us and didn’t cut us any slack. That’s how nursing should be. After all, you are holding someone’s life in your hands.”

Grace Mook had the same problem — finding a testing site in the Carolinas or the possibility of losing her lined up job. She was able to find a testing center in Lynchburg, VA, and began her nursing career in the Neuro ICU at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. Mook shares that becoming a nurse during a global pandemic was stressful. She entered the profession with a shortage of nurses, lack of PPE, and rapid filling ICUs. After a few months, as she became confident in her ICU skills, she began working extra hours on the COVID-19 ICU. “COVID-19 positive patients are the sickest I have ever cared for, but I wanted to help fight the ongoing battle alongside these frontline nurses," she says. She feels that as scary as this virus is, some of the most important moments in taking care of COVID-19 patients are holding their hands and letting them know they are not alone. Mook feels UofSC Nursing prepared her to practice with integrity and not cut corners. “My professors taught me to prioritize and multitask. We can be pushed to the limits and yet maintain compassion and empathy for our patients,” she says. 

Madison Wilson traveled from Ocean City, MD, to Allentown, PA, to take her NCLEX. She is working in the Cardiac Critical Step-Down Unit at Caromont Health in Gastonia, NC. Wilson describes her first year of practicing as an “absolute whirlwind.” She has gained additional experience outside of cardiac critical care because of overwhelmed hospitals and meeting community demands. Patients are being admitted to a-typical floors because of the pandemic. For example, she has taken care of oncology and neurology patients while on the cardiac floor. Wilson has learned when to ask for help and the importance of a strong supportive team. “My co-workers are everything,” she shares, “as is self-care, such as taking breaks and using PTO.”  Wilson feels UofSC Nursing prepared her above and beyond, which became apparent in her early days at orientation. “My confidence, knowledge base, and leadership skills became invaluable as I crossed to working on the frontlines,” she says. She felt equipped to jump right into the fires of the pandemic. “There isn’t a single thing I would change about my experience at the college. There is certainly a method to their madness,” smiles Wilson.

Rocio Mundo is the lead nurse with Bamberg School District 2. She took her NCLEX seven hours away in Altamonte Springs, FL. “It was important to me to take the NCLEX promptly after graduation to begin working and making a difference during the pandemic,” Mundo shares. She has learned so much in her first year, but it has been very challenging due to COVID-19.  Mundo feels that UofSC Nursing equipped her with leadership skills and to prioritize to decrease stress daily. She says, “I was prepared to start my career with the skills necessary to work in a pandemic. It is not easy, but knowing how to stay focused is a lifesaver.”



Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.