SANFORD - Central Carolina Community College graduate Lindsey Michno recently put her nursing skills to the extreme when she traveled to New York to help patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michno says this has the most interesting time of her nursing career. "I was working in a clinic for a few months when I saw the opportunity for travel nursing in New York," said Michno, noting that she felt she could use her three years of experience in an area where it was needed. "I applied for a contract position in New York, and a week later, I was driving up to stay for a month.
"I am grateful to my supportive parents, coworkers, and friends who encouraged to me pursue this idea after I presented it to them. It was terrifying to think of being away from home for a month, but I was passionate about helping and could not ignore that calling," said Michno, who graduated from the CCCC Nursing program in 2017 and currently is a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Duke Regional Hospital in Durham.
What was the experience like working with COVID-19 patients?
"It was as scary as I thought it would be," said Michno, who calls Lillington her hometown. "I had many shifts where I thought I couldn't do it anymore. I saw and provided care that I never thought possible. I worked with incredible nurses and doctors who were filling roles they never expected to fill. I saw the teamwork and the passion that these people had for medicine and for caring for others. I learned a lot about the importance of palliative (Hospice) care and about conversations with family. I bonded with family members through my many layers of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) on a Facetime call as I updated them on the condition of their loved one. I cried with them over Facetime and I encouraged them to hold onto hope when I could. I gained an incredible amount of respect for all aspects of healthcare. I learned what my voice meant as a nurse and I really learned how to use it to advocate for my patients."
Michno said she is conscious of the fact that she could be exposed when caring for COVID-19 positive patients. "The first shift in NY, I was very aware of how exposed I could be, but soon it became my new normal," she said. "I am the type of person/nurse to say, 'OK, this is my situation, time to strap up my boots and deal with it.' I put my patient care first and I just focused on protecting them as well as myself. I can handle the possibility of being exposed if my patient can handle everything this virus has put them through."
Michno believes the New York experience changed who she is in her career. "I gained so much confidence in my nursing skills and my ability to adapt to the changing conditions daily," she said. "I took care of patients I will never forget and worked alongside amazing people who inspired me. I learned an entirely different kind of nursing that will change how I provide care to patients for the rest of my career."
From sign artist to nursing
Before nursing, Michno was an art major and spent several years working as a sign artist in Raleigh. "I have painted a few murals around Lillington. It is still a hobby that I keep today," she said.
Michno said she doesn't have a great story for choosing nursing as a career. "I'm not totally sure how I came upon the idea. I like to think that nursing chose me," said Michno.
Michno enjoys the connections she makes with families and patients. "I enjoy thinking critically and making a difference in people's lives," she said.
Of course, there are the difficult parts of being a nurse. "I think the hardest part is not being able to save everyone and dealing with the ethical and emotional aspects of nursing," said Michno.
"Nothing in the nursing world is the same right now and every day we are learning and adapting to what is best for our patients."
What are Michno's thoughts about the outpouring of support and concern that people have shown toward healthcare workers during this crisis? "It is overwhelming to be thanked for my service and to see the outpour of support from the community. It is so appreciated and often what would get me through a difficult shift," she said. "The work is incredibly humbling and seeing the community recognize the hard work that healthcare workers provide is wonderful."
CCCC - As a Student
Michno speaks highly of her education at Central Carolina Community College. "CCCC gave me the most amazing clinical education I could have asked for. I felt very prepared on graduation from the wonderful experiences that our clinical instructors provided for us throughout the two years of the program," said Michno. "I felt that my class was my family and I always felt supported by the college. I have lifelong friendships in many of my classmates and a valuable education from my instructors."
Michno notes that her time management and critical thinking skills were truly developed by the teaching she received at CCCC. "I owe many of my successes in my career to CCCC," she said.
What would she tell someone who may be considering CCCC for their educational journey? "I always advocate for CCCC when I can. I brag on the advising I received and the instructors who guided me into nursing," said Michno. "I think it is a wonderful school to gain hands-on experience in small class sizes as well as form mentorships with professors who will help mold you into the person you will become.
"CCCC pushed me to be the person I am today, and I am always grateful for my time there."
To learn more about Central Carolina Community College, visit www.cccc.edu.
Lindsey Michno (pictured here) has traveled to New York to help patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.