(Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a new series that takes a look at how recent graduates lives were turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
It takes a special kind of person to knowingly put their life in danger in order to help and comfort a complete stranger who needs medical attention.
During these trying times due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, nurses and doctors have put their lives and those of their families at risk in order to treat people who have tested positive for the illness.
They’ve spent countless hours on their feet, running around doing everything possible to help their patients get better.
Despite knowing the risk and long hours required, recent Gunnison High School graduate Jennifer Mortensen will be heading to University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) in August to study nursing.
“I think everyone was scared at first to be in contact with the virus but I think I could have done more than just stay home and not really do much,” said Mortensen. “I feel like being able to be on the frontlines and being able to see it pan out, and being able to help out people would have been pretty cool.”
Originally, Mortensen didn’t plan to go into the nursing field, because she had her sights set on being a veterinarian, however because of her allergies she had to let go of that plan.
That unknowingly would leave the door wide open for another plan to enter Mortensen's brain — during a sad time in her and her family's life.
“My grandpa was in the emergency room twice, they put the tubes in his throat to help him breathe better and he got better and lived for three more years. Then the same thing happened and he didn’t recover,” said Mortensen.
Mortensen's grandfather died almost a year ago.
“I got to see him in the emergency room, with the tubes and seeing how the nurses handled his situation and us as a family with what we were going through. I think it really inspired me to do just that,” said Mortensen on why she chose to go to nursing school. “I'm looking forward to helping people and seeing how someone recovers over a span of time. I really want to be there not just for the patient, but the family too, who is probably really suffering for their family member.”
Mortensen said she finds it interesting how many cases nurses have, the different kinds of problems people face and ways to treat them.
“Everyone is different and I feel like everyone is going to have to be treated differently and so one person might have a certain sickness or disease and it might look completely different in someone else,” said Mortensen. “So you’re going to have to evaluate that and plan out how to take care of each person. Then being able to see how they recover and how they are doing, as well as seeing their family and friends perk up, I feel like that would be really rewarding.”
At the moment Mortensen is unsure on what field she wants to specialize in, yet she is leaning towards urgent care or emergency room — after reaching out for advice on the nursing field.
“My closest friend Karina Perez’s mom is a nurse here and I've talked to her to get her viewpoint of the field and how it's going to be,” said Mortensen. “I've also gone to UCCS and checked out the nursing program and I really liked it. They have a good simulation lab and was really informed on how they do all of that.”
While Mortensen is eager to get into nursing school and start helping people, she does have a few fears about entering the field.
“There is definitely a little bit of fear of messing up and doing something wrong,” said Mortensen. “Just because it is such a big field, I’m going to have to study so much and really know and memorize a lot of things. So I feel like it's definitely scary and there is always that doubt of am I going to be able to do it? But I think there are always doubts in life and you just have to go through it and figure it out and try your best.
“I'm just really excited to go into it and learn more,” said Mortensen. “I've gotten a good idea of what it's like and I'm pretty excited to just go deeper in it.”
(Brandon Warr can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or email@example.com.)