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Glimpse of a life as a trauma nurse helps one student plan future

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  • Written By: Felicia Messimer
Glimpse of a life as a trauma nurse helps one student plan future

For a few hours a week in the afternoon, Campbell County High School (CCHS) junior Grace McDonald joins the doctors and nurses at the Campbell County Memorial Hospital Emergency Department (ED) to learn about a career in health care.

A career in nursing piqued her interest after she had spent some time in the hospital with a family member, so she began to research the opportunities further and found one area that felt right—trauma.

For her next step, Grace was accepted into the CCSD Health Care Academy so she’d have an opportunity to learn more about the career she was interested in before heading off to college. She is one of 12 internship, or mentorship, students who are getting some direct experience in their field of interest at Campbell County Health.

“It’s an awesome program, and the nurses in the ED have been great teachers,” says Grace. “I am there when the doctors are talking to the patients, and all of the nurses have been good about explaining to me what the patient is going through and what the next step is for them. I see all the exciting stuff dealing with patient care, and I also see the less appealing stuff like documenting.”

Grace has been involved with the CCH Junior Volunteer program in the past, and she currently works part-time at Pizza Carrello, taking orders and slinging pizzas to happy customers. Two years ago, Grace spent a month in Ghana on a research trip on nutrition and food security with the American Youth Leadership Program via the University of Wyoming Extension Office. She’s also an Ambassador for the CCHS Academy Program, and will present about her experiences with the program to people who are interested in learning about it.

Grace is very thankful for her experience at CCMH, and for the CCSD Academy program because it has allowed her to really be exposed to what she thinks she wants to do for the rest of her life before she heads off to college.

“Everyone I’ve worked with in the ED has been so caring and compassionate to the patients who have come in. It’s been a wonderful experience,” she says.

Grace isn’t the only one who is thankful for her experience, her mom is as well. “By letting Grace observe activities in such an open way, she has been able to imagine the realities of her goal of being a trauma nurse,” says Grace’s mom, Stacie McDonald. “She comes home every day after mentoring and she is excited about what she has learned. We realize this takes extra time and effort from an already busy staff, which makes it all the more appreciated.”

CCH staff also see a benefit to the program: “As a patient, you see a small and entirely different perspective of healthcare,” says Geraghty Kirsch, RN, who works as a nurse in the ED and has worked with Grace for a couple of her rotations in the ED. “A huge part of nursing school is getting hands-on experience. Being able to do what Grace is doing now is allowing her to get a better feel for what she thinks that she wants to do.”

In high school, Geraghty also took part in a mentorship program like the one Grace is in, and believes it helped her make a more knowledgeable choice in the career path she chose.

Grace’s rotation in the ED is coming to an end, and she hopes that the next semester she’ll be in Emergency Medical Services to experience another side of caring for patients during a medical emergency. We hope to check in on Grace as she checks out another aspect of patient care.

If you're interested in learning more about volunteering with CCH, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Chris Buxton at 307.688.1536 or

  • Category: Emergency Department, Emergency Medical Services, Volunteer