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May 16, 2013
Contact: Steve Rottinghaus, Baker University public relations director, (785) 594-8330 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Nursing graduates enjoy community outreach

Topeka, Kan. — While most students were relaxing at home or vacationing at a popular spring break destination, Baker University School of Nursing students Kenzie Thompson and Corinne Nilsen spent the third week of March digging irrigation ditches and helping build trails at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, N.M. It was an example of a community service project performed by several students during their two years studying and training at Stormont-Vail HealthCare.Corinne-Nilsen-and-Kenzie-Thompson

"It was very rewarding," said Kenzie Thompson, who will receive her nursing pin on Friday before graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree on Sunday at the Collins Center on the Baldwin City campus. "It felt good to help out these people from a very poor community with issues of drug and alcohol abuse."

Thompson, who grew up in De Soto, Kan., completed her nursing prerequisites at the Baldwin City campus before transferring to the nursing school in Topeka. She has long been interested in pursuing a career in nursing because of the impact nurses make with patients and the community.

"The nurse is always at the bedside of their patients, comforting them while they are sick," Thompson said. "Nurses seem to have a good rapport with people, communicating with them and taking care of them 24/7. It is rewarding work because you get a lot out of it."

Thompson is actively applying for medical-surgery jobs. After she develops her clinical skills, she would prefer to work as a labor and delivery nurse. Thompson credits several professors, including Linda King, Cindy Light and Della Anderson, for helping her through the nursing program.

"They really take care of you and give you what you need to know to build relationships and become a good nurse," Thompson said.

Like Thompson, Nilsen credits the nursing faculty for being a positive influence.
"The professors were the biggest plus," Nilsen said. "The faculty was very encouraging, supporting and knowledgeable."

Unlike Thompson, Nilsen did not grow up wanting to be a nurse. Nilsen, originally from Hesston, Kan., had studied business for three years before switching majors in pursuit of a nursing degree.

"I didn't like the idea of being in an office," said Nilsen, who has accepted a job in the intensive care unit at the University of Kansas Medical Center. "I wanted a meaningful career. That was also the main reason I went to New Mexico for spring break. I wanted to do something different."

This summer, Nilsen plans to return to Kenya for a medical mission with fellow classmates. A year ago she joined six classmates and two School of Nursing graduates as part of a Streams of Hope International medical mission.

"It was an incredible experience," Nilsen recalled. "It was really eye opening to see it first hand. I am excited to go back with more nursing skills than I had last year and reach out to the community."

Baker University is committed to assuring student learning, and developing confident, competent and responsible contributors to society.