FAIRFIELD — Nurse Elizabeth Scott-Paulson held up the red scarf, made by a patient, and shared the story behind it.
The nurse wears red to work each day at Valley Care in Pleasanton. The color represents passion, energy, life and hope in the darkest moments, she said.
The scarf and its stitches reflect many moments and many relationships, Scott-Paulson said.
Scott-Paulson, a Fairfield resident, is one of the nurses in Touro University California’s new School of Nursing. It is the only higher education institution physically located in Solano County that offers baccalaureate and higher degrees in nursing. The university has a campus on Mare Island.
For the next 18 months, Scott-Paulson and the other nurses will further their education and learn about being a clinical nurse leader, a relatively new nursing role. Clinical nurse leaders are health care systems specialists who oversee patient care coordination, assess health risks, develop quality improvement strategies, facilitate team communication and implement evidence-based solutions.
The nurses shared symbols of what nursing meant to them at the first class meeting. Scott-Paulson, who is earning her master’s degree in nursing, showed the scarf for that reason.
“The nurse’s role is expanding with health care reform,” she said. “Nursing has evolved so much. There’s such a call for advanced degrees.”
A few weeks ago, Scott-Paulson was called in for an interview with the Joint Commission and state health officials. It was there that she learned the patient who made her the red scarf requested “the nurse in red” be her nurse.
Celeste Clark, a Sacramento resident, works with the Department of Veterans Affairs, traveling to rural areas such as Sutter Creek and Pine Grove, to care for America’s aging heroes. She often logs 130 miles a day doing home visits.
“I feel I’m just part of helping people have access to care,” she said.
Nursing is her second career. Clark worked in cosmetology prior.
“This is a huge step for me,” she said. She will also earn her master’s degree.
Janet Modrich and her husband, Michael Modrich, are both nurses and American Canyon residents. She works in hospice. He worked as a paramedic in the intensive care unit and emergency room. He’s now with Solano County Emergency Medical Services.
Michael Modrich showed his fellow students a pen that he purchased with his first paycheck after finishing nursing school.
“It tells me I have done stuff for people,” he said.
One woman showed a hand-drawn picture of a light bulb, done by her 9-year-old daughter. Light represents power and power is education, she said.
Lydia Day, of Fairfield, held up a book about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She was living in Manhattan at the time. While she didn’t help out at ground zero, she said the need for nurses was evident during one “of the country’s biggest tragedies.”
The range of experience varied among the students from the newly graduated to a few who have more than 30 years in the nursing field. Some of the students shared how they followed family members into the profession.
Course instructor Ann Stoltz, a Vacaville resident, is living out her mother’s dream – and loving it.
“She wanted to get married and dropped out of nursing school,” Stoltz said of her mother.
Projections demonstrate the need for more than 7,000 registered nurses in Solano County and the surrounding areas by 2018, according to figures shared by Stoltz.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.