A Nurse’s Care Can Make a Lasting Impact

By Carlos Harrison

A Nurse’s Care Can Make a Lasting Impact

By Carlos Harrison
School of Nursing and Health Studies senior Casey Pearce prepares to transition from student to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit caregiver.

Casey Pearce has a deep appreciation for the care nurses provide, especially in those moments when a small gesture can make a huge difference. That appreciation motivated her to pursue a career in nursing. 

She remembers as a young girl visiting her brother, in the hospital after he’d undergone open-heart surgeries to repair a congenital heart defect. “The nurses would hold my hand to help me feel safe,” she recalled. “They’d walk with me around the unit. It was little things like that, the generosity of the nurses, which made me want to be that support for everyone else.” 

From her first moment on campus, Pearce fell in love with the University of Miami. She had the opportunity share her enthusiasm as a President’s 100 ambassador, conducting campus tours for prospective families. 

Her experience at the School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS) reinforced what she’d always felt about the profession. “The faculty is very supportive,” Pearce said. “It’s not a weeding-out process. They want us to succeed.” 

Most recently singled out for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Excellence in Leadership Award at the SONHS Spring 2018 awards ceremony, Pearce emerged as a dedicated student leader, serving as president of the UM chapter of the National Student Nurses’ Association and on the SONHS Patient Safety Committee. 

She also co-created several online games to teach patient safety concepts in an interactive and engaging manner, and helped to write the Patient Safety newsletter. 

As Pearce looks toward graduation, becoming a first-class nurse remains her priority. Her time at the SONHS supported that goal. From day one, she gained first-hand experience at a variety of hospitals and in diverse disciplines. 

Of course, her first day also offered a bit of a learning experience. “I was super excited about going into a room and helping someone,” she recalled. “One sweet lady wanted help putting syrup on her waffles.” So Pearce picked up a container and started pouring only to notice an unopened syrup packet on the tray. She’d just doused the patient’s waffles with coffee. “I was shaking and didn’t know what to do.” 

But not only did the woman insist they were the best waffles she’d ever tasted, her husband even came to the nurses’ station to say that his wife had just had “the best breakfast talking to you,’” she recounted. 

A few years later Pearce can laugh about the “waffle mix-up.” She’s now preparing to share her caring, compassion and topnotch nursing skills with the tiniest of all patients: newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. 

“The one piece of advice I would give anyone is to follow your heart,” she said. “Never did I expect to find myself in love with the NICU… I intend to continue to listen to my gut and follow my heart because, otherwise, whatever you’re doing is not worth it.” 

Teaching is another passion she intends to pursue. “I want to emulate those professors who have meant so much to me,” said Pearce. “I’d love to prepare our future nurses and help guide them on their journey with the same support and care I’ve been privileged to experience.”