An APU Nursing Graduate on the Frontlines of COVID-19

Azusa Pacific University nursing graduate Erin Jenkins, MSN ’20, RN, CCRN, has been on the frontlines caring for patients since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her experiences mirror that of many healthcare workers during this time. Stressors are high, and it’s a constant struggle to keep her energy levels from getting too low. Still, she knows she’s giving her all to care for her patients and making a difference in their lives.

Jenkins shared how she’s responding to the challenges of the pandemic, what she does to destress, and how her education at APU’s School of Nursing prepared her to care for and lead others during this trying year.

Nursing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

According to Jenkins, nursing always had a draw for her, particularly a nurse’s ability to use physical and mental dexterity to care for patients. “I liken medicine to that of an unfolding mystery, waiting to be solved,” she said. “Nursing encompasses every aspect: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and that variety has always appealed to me.”

During her nursing studies at APU’s San Diego Regional Campus, Jenkins’ faculty and preceptors noted her exceptional abilities and dedication to meeting the needs of her patients. “She was a model student, very conscientious, and eager to learn and advance her nursing skills,” said Sheryl Nespor, PhD, JD, MSN, assistant professor in the School of Nursing. “She demonstrated the ability to look at individual, family, and community problems while seeing the whole patient, providing the best care using the best scientific evidence while establishing patient trust and rapport. She did this effortlessly as a practicing nurse who was finishing her academic studies and clinical hours.”

Jenkins’s mental strength, desire to work with her hands, and ability to solve problems prepared her to work on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[The COVID-19 pandemic] taught me the ever valuable lesson of learning to adapt,” Jenkins said. “While the nursing profession changes and evolves on a daily basis, this pandemic has forced us to learn the value of being okay in uncertainty and somehow be good at it.”

On a personal level, Jenkins admits some days are easier than others when it comes to bringing stress home.

“Some days I feel strong. I can work out, lift weights, do yoga, meditate, research the latest studies, listen to my favorite music and I feel unstoppable,” Jenkins shared. “Other days I feel tired, emotionally drained, and just need to rest and lay low.”

And while Jenkins and her husband are grateful to have roles as essential workers when job losses are affecting people around the country, she still worries, especially about their health. “It is scary to think about contracting the virus, and we worry about how it would affect our health.”

Developing Essential Skills Through APU’s Nursing Program

As a graduate of the APU School of Nursing, Jenkins sees how her training prepared her for working in health care during a pandemic.

“I learned resilience while in nursing school,” she said. “When things got difficult, I just put my head down and told myself, ‘You can get through this temporary pain, and the payoff will be worth it.’”

Nespor noted that Jenkins, like many APU nursing students, has modeled courage in her work, going into the hospital each day with compassion, poise, and dedication to meeting patients' needs even in the challenging uncertainties of the pandemic. “I’m amazed by my students,” she added. “They are all on the front lines, doing it day in and day out, modeling best practice while looking at the whole person.”

Now, amid long days on the frontlines of the pandemic, Jenkins has learned to keep her cool and continue bringing the best professional care to both her patients and those looking to her for reliable information. She emphasized that her nursing graduate degree equipped her with the skills needed to verify information, conduct research, and make medical decisions based on scientific facts and evidence rather than anecdotal opinions. “My education at APU taught me to question information, think critically, and recognize that my actions will impact others—all of which have been very applicable in this time,” she said. “I learned I am a nursing leader now, and people rely on me for information and to speak the truth.”

Nursing Programs Focused on Whole-Person Care

APU’s School of Nursing is a nationally ranked nursing school that prepares students to care not just for the physical health of patients but also for their emotional and spiritual well-being. In a time when physical, mental, and emotional health are more important than ever, nurses practicing whole-person care can make all the difference.

Whether you’re considering entering the field or are a practicing nurse looking to advance your career, APU’s School of Nursing offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing degrees available online, on campus, and at APU regional locations across Southern California.

Explore APU’s School of Nursing programs and consider applying today.