When the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) caused Boston College to close its campus and move classes online, the disruption took many forms. For Jenna Bike, a women’s soccer player just months away from completing her nursing degree, it threatened her final clinical placement—a requirement for graduation.
Jenna had begun her final clinical at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, but as the hospital became an epicenter for COVID-19 patients, they dismissed all nursing students as a precautionary measure.
“One by one all the hospitals started closing to students,” Jenna recalls. “But we needed a certain amount of hours to graduate. A lot of other nursing students had to finish their hours online or do population health placements.”
With the support of the Connell School of Nursing, graduating seniors were able to complete their clinical hours. Jenna secured a position at the VA Boston Hospital in Jamaica Plain, despite growing fears during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak. At VA Boston, the nurses on the surgical dermatology floor took Jenna under their wing, mentoring her as they navigated the crisis together.
“They knew they could get called to help on the front lines at any moment, but they were committed to doing their best to serve our patients,” says Jenna. “The feeling of camaraderie was so strong, and it was an honor to be part of their team.”
And, while she admits it was a bit frightening to be working in a hospital through that time, Jenna says, “When you’re with a patient, all that fear goes to the back-burner, you’re just focused on the task at hand.”
Looking back, Jenna says her formation as a nurse and as a Division I soccer player go hand-in-hand, especially during her final placement when she saw the strength of the nursing team at the VA.
“They seem like polar opposites, but they are actually very similar. We have a team on the field and a team on the unit,” says Jenna.
“When I think about my education as a nursing student and my career as a student-athlete, the foundation is the same,” says Jenna. “Both as a player and as a nurse, your job is to help someone else. You need support from your team to do your job well.”
Fortunately, this wasn’t Jenna’s last season at the Heights. She was sidelined with an injury in Fall 2019, so she will be back on the field for her fifth year when she returns to campus to pursue a master’s degree in nursing.
In reflecting on her weeks at the VA Hospital, Jenna says, “The whole experience reminded me of how Coach [Jason] Lowe is constantly telling us to have an attitude of gratitude. He says that about everything we do—on the field, off the field, even getting off the bus. It means you should be thankful for what you have and all the people who helped you get there along the way.”