KINGSTON, R.I. — May 6, 2016 – When the University of Rhode Island announced its new Academic Health Collaborative just a few weeks ago, it chose senior nursing student Lauren Mancini to offer the student perspective at a kickoff event attended by health science leaders at URI and from around the state.
The Franklin, Mass. resident delivered a crisp, clear description of the importance of collaboration in health care delivery for students, providers and patients. A main goal of the collaborative is to encourage teaching, research and service across disciplines, health agencies and businesses in Rhode Island and the nation. URI is forming a new College of Sciences as part of the major reorganization.
“As I progressed through my career here at URI, faculty have emphasized that great health care is a team activity,” said Mancini, who will earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing May 22. “This is something I have experienced firsthand through building personal and professional relationships with students in the College of Pharmacy and Human Science and Services. We all learn about similar topics but have each taken away different knowledge from our majors, while still collaborating for the benefit of the patient.”
This spring she went to Brown University as the URI Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy joined Brown Alpert Medical School students for an interprofessional education experience.
During her four years at URI, Mancini completed practicums in advanced medical-surgical nursing, nursing of children, nursing care of vulnerable populations, psychiatric mental health nursing and child and reproductive health.
“In each one of these specialties, success boils down to teamwork with patients, doctors, nurses, family members, teachers, social workers, pharmacists and so many other groups,” said Mancini “I have been able to see these specialties work together through the many opportunities I have had at Rhode Island and Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Matunuck Elementary School and countless other places in the community.”
A recipient of a URI Centennial Scholarship and inductee of the Delta Upsilon-at-large Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau, and Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, Mancini will be leaving URI with a minor in thanatology, the study of death and dying.
“The reason I sought a minor in thanatology was to have another tool in my backpack.”
While she hopes to land a job in pediatric nursing, Mancini said one of her first nursing courses taught her that losses occur across a lifetime.
“There are maturational losses that start from the day you are an infant to actual death,” Mancini said. “It happens when a child loses his status as the only child when a sister comes along. Parents lose children. You have to prepared for changes in expected outcomes.”
Thanks to her thanatology training, she learned how to be a more thoughtful nurse around issues of dying.
“I learned to provide postmortem care, including how to prepare a body for the morgue. And when I encountered these situations while working I was not intimated because my minor had previously forced me to confront my fears about death.”
But she also can’t wait to starting working with children.
“I love kids, and I have more than 50 first cousins, many of whom are much older than me and have children,” Mancini said. “I have been the babysitter for so many of them, and I have been an influential part in their lives. As a sophomore, I started working as a nanny.”
She’d like to start in pediatric, medical surgical nursing and said URI has given her a great foundation. “But I would like to complete a residency program in nursing because there is so much more to learn.”
Mancini said it took her a while to figure out, but she learned that forming bonds with her professors would help her.
“I established relationships with my clinical and lecture professors. I am amazed by the impact of nursing research on the profession.”
She is especially grateful to Diane Thulier, assistant professor of nursing, who brought her on as an undergraduate research assistant for a weight loss study of babies born at South County Hospital.
“To see the research process, all of the work that goes into it and to see what is possible was inspiring,” she said.
Mancini is poised, confident and ready to enter the world of health care, but she wasn’t always so well integrated.
“When I got here my freshman year, I said I am just going to be a student, because I felt I needed to do well in nursing school.”
But as a second semester sophomore, Mancini applied to the Student Alumni Association, which helps organize the mud volleyball tournament, Oozeball, homecoming, Rhody Rally and many other events.
“SAA has allowed me to meet some of my best friends at URI, and now I feel so connected to campus. They are some of the most influential people on campus. They are orientation leaders, tour guides, and they are the ones whose pictures can be found on campus banners. They get nominated for campus leadership awards and I am proud to call these people my best friends.”
As she closes out her time, at URI, Mancini will be stepping down from her post as vice president of campus engagement for SAA and from her roles as a Student Rambassador, Nursing Ambassador and Student Nurses Association member.
“I am going to miss everything about URI because it has given me so much. I think just walking around campus is what I will miss the most. I would urge younger students to look up, take it all in. You are never going to hang out with or see your best friends almost every day again, take advantage of that.”
URI photo by Nora Lewis