Meet sophomore Helene Lewis, one of the students in The College of New Jersey’s outstanding nursing program. Lewis knew that going to nursing school would be no walk in the park; the program is competitive, making for rigorous coursework. When she signed up, she was aware that she was seriously committing to her studies. Still, with such a great commitment, Lewis has found herself to be extremely involved in areas outside of nursing – she is a member of both the Sigma Kappa sorority and the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.
Lewis has always known she has wanted to become a nurse. “I couldn’t see myself with a desk job or in an office,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do work that will benefit others.”
She enjoys that the nursing students at TCNJ are apart of a very tight-knit community. “We’re all really close because we’re taking the same classes. Early on, we formulated study groups and made nursing group chats,” she said. This extra support helps her stay on top. Lewis is also thankful that her big in Sigma Kappa is a nursing major. “She helps me understand things when I’m struggling.”
“As difficult as everyone says it is, being a TCNJ nursing major is a lot of time management, planning, and long hours studying,” Lewis said. “The professors really care and want to make sure we’re doing our best.”
Helene finds her balance by making a schedule and sticking to it. She finds it useful to keep a planner to set up the necessary tasks she knows she’ll need to accomplish. “It’s all about knowing my assignments, setting dates to do them, and getting enough library time.” To her, the hard work is worth it when she is able to apply what she’s learned in class to her clinicals.
Lewis said she believes that in her freshman year, she studied an average of 25 hours a week. She found herself in the library at least two hours each day. “Studying as a nursing student is a lot of application and memorizing, like adding pieces to a puzzle,” she said.
So far, Lewis’ freshman spring semester has been the most stressful yet. “I really had to time manage because I was joining all these organizations while simultaneously meeting my academic demands,” she said. She expects her junior year to be the most challenging.
Contrary to popular belief, Helene is able to find free time as a nursing major. She owes this time to not saving everything until the last minute and cramming. Sleep is another story for her; she could get from two hours to twelve – “It really depends on the work I’m assigned for the week,” she said.
For Lewis, the most exciting part, thus far, has been getting her white coat and being able to work in clinicals. “Even though it’s the basics, getting to do injections, vitals, and blood pressure is a pretty exciting thing for a newbie,” she said.
Helene looks forward to future clinicals involving maternity and pediatrics. Although she knows that she will be challenged, she is certainly up for it.
Helene is glad to have found a home within TCNJ nursing.
All photos courtesy of Helene Lewis.