Ever since she can remember, Elkin High School senior McKenna Major has wanted to be a nurse. During the past semester, she’s had a chance to get an up-close look at nursing and confirmed her desire through an internship at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital.
As she joins her classmates Friday night in getting her diploma, Major’s track already has been in the works for her future, thanks in part to her internship in The Birthplace at HCMH. The time she’s spent there has firmed up her desire to go into nursing and has given her a field of interest which she wants to focus on — babies and children.
“I wanted to be a nurse. I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, and I wanted to do an internship to get hands on experience and to see if it was a good fit for me,” said Major last week as she sat in one of the empty rooms on the OB floor of the local hospital where she’s spent the last few months.
“I babysit and I have siblings, and I love children, and that’s why I chose to do [the internship] here,” she said. “I feel like I work here, even though I don’t. I know where things go, and I got attached to a lot of people here, too.”
When she completed her internship Tuesday of this week, Major finished with 135 hours. “That is a lot of hours for one semester,” she said. “I really liked it. I liked working with the people here. They are awesome.
“I know it’s cliche, but I liked seeing new lives coming into the world and doing my project.”
The project Major chose was to collect baby items, such as pacifiers, wipes, diapers, clothes, hats, socks and mittens, and donate them to the OB floor to be distributed to patients who come in and may not have what they need for their new little one.
Major posted advertisements at Elkin High School, at her parents’ work places, on social media and the internet seeking out donations for her project. On Thursday, she gathered all of the items together and lugged them to the third floor of the hospital where she presented them to the nurses in The Birthplace.
Gail Poplin, OB clinical nurse manager at HCMH, said she has hosted many high school interns in previous years, because it does help ensure they know what nursing is about. “It helps them to know if nursing is what they really want to pursue, so it is valuable,” she said of the internship program. “Coming to the hospital they get to see a more realistic side to what nursing can be like. It’s not just rocking babies, it gets crazy up here.
“We really, really appreciate McKenna doing that project,” Poplin continued. “We get drop-in patients who come without a lot, and a lot are not prepared.”
She said Major asked those in the department what would be helpful to them, and those are the items she donated.
“It is a problem when they come with no clothes, and what we do have gets depleted pretty rapidly,” Poplin said. “For a lot of them, this is the nicest clothes they’ll get.”
The OB department is always open to receiving donations, especially of baby wipes and pacifiers because there is no budget to purchase those items. The department uses wet wash clothes to tend to babies’ dirty diapers.
“The staff will benefit from them greatly,” Poplin said of the donations.
In the fall, Major is set to enroll at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to pursue her Bachelor of Science in nursing. “Hopefully I’ll work in an OB unit with babies and children wherever I live after college,” she said.
Major took all of the health science courses available in high school and said she can thank those for getting her ready for her next step. She also had volunteered at the hospital 50 hours on the first and second floors and did clinicals in her Health Science II course.
“I think everybody anywhere should definitely do an internship, because I confirmed this is really what I want to do,” she said. “Before pursuing an education, you should be sure about what you’re pursuing, and taking [Career and Technical Education] courses in high school is really important.”
Major is the daughter of Dana and Mike Reece of Elkin and Kenny Major of Charlotte.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.