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Healthcare Heroes: Nursing Student Nicole Cannon '17
Healthcare Heroes: Nursing Student Nicole Cannon '17

In this series, we will be speaking with members of our community who are working and volunteering in the healthcare field during the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19. We want to say thank you to the countless alumni, parents, and other members of our community who are working tirelessly to keep us healthy and safe. We appreciate everything you do.

Heathcare Heroes Series: Nicole Cannon '17:

Nicole Cannon is in her third year of a five-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Drexel University. She is currently completing her co-op (cooperative education) at Jefferson University Hospital in Center City Philadelphia as a nurse extern in the surgical trauma unit.

Nikki was inspired to become a nurse after watching her grandfather suffer through complications from uncontrolled diabetes in the final years of his life. And while she is currently overseen by a registered nurse doing routine patient care assignments, she knows that the warmth of a friendly face in the hospital can make a world of difference to a patient, especially one who is isolated from friends and family in the current healthcare environment.

"Due to the current situation, Jefferson, like many hospitals, is not allowing patients to have visitors," she shared. "This is very challenging for many patients as they may feel lonely and socially isolated. Keeping these patients company, taking the time to talk to them and help them with their daily activities and get in contact with their family members and other loved ones really improves their time in the hospital."

In the past few weeks, she says, the hospital has been quieter than usual. With elective surgeries and procedures canceled, many units have open beds for the anticipated rise in COVID-19 patients. "While I am nervous about being in a health care setting right now, I know that Jefferson is doing everything they can to keep me and other employees safe during this pandemic," Nikki said.

While many of us are able to quarantine at home with family, many healthcare workers can not. Part of staying safe means eliminating face-to-face interactions with her loved ones while she's working in the hospital and living in a one-bedroom apartment on Drexel's campus. "When I come home from work, I immediately shower, wash my scrubs, leave my work shoes by the front door, and wipe down any materials I had at work with me with disinfectant (phone, ID badge, pen, etc.)." She is grateful that she has technology to help her keep connected with her family and friends.

There are things we all can do to support the efforts of our healthcare workers. Nikki urges friends and family to also take precautions and follow the guidelines set in place by the CDC. She said, "I would also advise checking in on family members and friends, as these guidelines can make many feel lonely and isolated and it is important to check in on those we love and care about!"

For Nikki, much of her inspiration to dedicate her life to helping others came from her formative years at EA. Among the many experiences, peers, coaches, and teachers who inspired her, Nikki said Reverend Squire's impact was paramount. "Reverend Squire was tireless in his efforts to improve the lives of all the students at EA. He was there when we were in need of help and made sure that we all left EA as better people than when we started. This unwavering passion for helping others is what inspired me to pursue nursing, a career devoted to helping and improving the lives of others."

We are so grateful to Nikki for speaking with us and for her dedication to her patients. If you - or an EA community member you know - are working or volunteering on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to share your story. Please contact us at alumni@episcopalacademy.org.