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Learning Nursing Care in a Different Type of Classroom

Penn Nursing students Aman Uppal and Michelle Tran spent the summer before their final semesters in a clinical rotation at the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy.

School nurses wear many hats, often different from a nurse working in a hospital, say, or a health care practice.

It’s a role that interested Penn Nursing students Aman Uppal and Michelle Tran, and one they gained unique insight into during their community clinical rotation this summer with the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy, a small K-12 school in West Philadelphia.

For six weeks, from early June through mid-July, they helped manage students’ medications, food intake, and personal care before, during, and after class. They also spent time learning adaptive techniques from the school’s teachers, who worked to ensure their students had the best opportunity to participate in a range of activities, from art class to physical therapy.

“Learning to meet these kids where they are and work with them has been the greatest [gift] from this,” says Uppal, who is from Rocklin, California.

Neither Uppal nor Tran grew up planning to become a nurse. Tran, from Philadelphia, originally considered being a researcher or clinical provider, and she worked as a medical scribe after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in organismal biology and physiology from Drexel University. And although Uppal says she loved the doctor’s office as a child, she initially studied economics at the University of Portland and launched a career in finance.

But as the two talked to the nurses in their lives and learned more about the field, they realized that nursing was their calling. Both enrolled in the 18-month accelerated BSN program at Penn, which is tailored to those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree who want to switch careers. For their summer community clinicals, a requirement for all BSN students, Uppal and Tran matched with the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy.

This is an excerpt from a longer story which was first published in Penn Today. It was written by Marilyn Perkins, a writer in University Communications.