Auburn Family

An Auburn Nursing Student Goes Beyond Just Taking Care of People

It has been said that it takes a special person to be a caretaker. These people volunteer to do the jobs that some people could never imagine doing. The kind of special person that can make the biggest impact on a person's life is a nurse.

Reilly Sharp, a senior at Auburn University, is studying to become a nurse. Sharp knew at an early age that becoming a nurse is who she aspired to be. It was no surprise to her that she was interested in taking care of people because of her dad who also works in the medical field.

"I always knew I wanted to help and be there for people because I have always liked taking care of people," said Sharp.

While Sharp was in high school, she experienced a time when her mother was very sick. She saw the impact her mother's nurses made during the days she struggled with her sickness.

"I saw how her day was affected when she had a nurse simply there just to take care of her compared to when she had a nurse who actually cared," said Sharp.

Through this eye-opening experience and after shadowing doctors and nurses is when Sharp realized taking care of people was important to her. She aspired to make an impact in people's life by truly caring for people who needed help the most.

"I want to be an advocate for the family and the patient and not just there to take care of them," said Sharp.

Since her time in nursing school, Sharp has experienced rewarding moments with her patients that have assured she is making a difference to them. One of her special moments was with one of her elderly patients during her first semester at Russell Medical Center in Alexander City.

"During our first semester, we are given easy responsibilities like giving baths, which is not everyone's favorite part of the job," laughed Sharp. "One day I was washing this lady's feet, and she leaned down and kissed the top of my head and said to me, 'Thank you so much because I know it takes a special person to do this.'"

As a part of their clinical experience, Auburn nursing students volunteer their expertise and assistance to nursing mothers during home football games. They are set up at private tents in different areas including the Auburn Arena, in front of the Jordan-Hare stadium and inside the stadium.

"It's a calm environment that reduces stress where moms can nurse their infant in privacy," said Sharp. "We have a rocking chair and changing tables for them, and if they have siblings then we have coloring and face painting stations for them too."

Sharp aspires to become a labor and delivery nurse one day because of the circumstances her family experienced when her younger twin siblings were born. One of her twin siblings, Kate, was born with Down syndrome and her family was not aware of her special needs until she was born. It is a known fact that babies with Down syndrome are born with heart problems but the Sharp family was lucky to discover that Kate didn't have any heart issues.

"As a labor and delivery nurse, I want to be an advocate for those patients, new moms, or families who have a child with special needs," said Sharp. "Experiencing it with my sister was eye-opening, and I know I can be a backbone for those families since I know what they are going through."

This semester Sharp is doing her clinical training at Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham. She rotates every day between mother and baby, the NICU, and the labor and delivery floor. This experience allows her to see all aspects of Obstetrics.

One day while Sharp was working on the labor and delivery floor, she had a unique experience with one of her patients.

"This patient quickly went into labor before the doctor could make it down so the nurse and I had to deliver her baby," said Sharp. "At that exact moment is when I knew I wanted to be able to help bring people into this world."

"Being a nurse is such a rewarding experience, and especially being a nurse for moms and babies is indescribable unless you have seen it for yourself," said Sharp.

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