KINGSTON, R.I. – May 15, 2007 – Chepachet resident Nicole Dahlquist knew from an early age that she wanted to become a nurse. Her grandmother, Ann Dahlquist, also of Chepachet, worked as a nurse at Rhode Island Hospital for many years, and she later served as the school nurse at Ponagansett High School, from which her granddaughter graduated in 2003.
“Her calm compassion and desire to reach out to people is really what inspired me,” Nicole said.
On May 20, the two women will march in the procession at the University of Rhode Island commencement ceremonies, Nicole to receive her bachelor’s degree in nursing, and Ann as a “Golden Graduate” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of her own graduation.
When Nicole became immersed in the URI nursing curriculum, she found she had a knack for the challenges that her grandmother and other nurses face. “I really love the hands-on nature of the work,” she said. “And all the gooey stuff – the blood, wounds, dressings and needles – doesn’t bother me at all.”
Nicole gained nursing experience during her clinical rotations at many of the hospitals in Rhode Island. She learned about surgical nursing at Newport Hospital and Westerly Hospital, maternity care at Women and Infants, geriatrics at Kent County Hospital, pediatrics at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and community nursing at the Warwick Visiting Nurses Association.
Working full time at Women and Infants in Providence last summer, the URI student cared for newborns and postpartum mothers. “That was a great experience,” Nicole said, “partly because it improved my communication skills. You’re thrown into situations when you have to get your point across effectively, both from nurse to nurse and nurse to patient. It helped me come out of my shell.”
The recipient of several URI scholarships, Nicole Dahlquist spent part of her last semester at URI providing care for children and adolescents at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
“To me, pediatric care is really the best because it’s so family centered,” she explained. “You not only care for kids but you care for their families as well. I think that’s become my niche in the nursing world. I really like it when families are there and I can help take care of both them and their ill child.”
She apparently made quite an impression at Hasbro, as she was offered a job there even before she completed her education. “I’ll be a registered nurse on a floor that serves children up to two years old,” said Nicole, who enjoys horseback riding and competing in dressage competitions in her free time. “I’d like to eventually end up in the pediatric intensive care unit, but for my first couple years I want to become accustomed to nursing on the medical/surgical floor.
Eventually Dahlquist hopes to return to school to earn a master’s degree in nurse leadership, with the goal of managing a nursing unit or teaching. “I’d love to come back here to URI. It’s a great school with a wonderfully friendly and relaxed atmosphere,” she said. “I really enjoyed my time here.”
ALL IN THE FAMILY: From left URI 2007 graduate Nicole Dahlquist of Chepachet, her grandmother URI 1957 graduate Ann M. Dahlquist of Chepachet; grandfather Evold Dahlquist; sister URI sophomore Patricia Dahlquist, and cousin URI junior Margaret Fogarty at the 2007 commencement ceremonies. URI photo by Michael Salerno Photography.