THON Through The Eyes Of A Student Nurse

Photo by Mitchell Valentin

After countless hours of standing on their feet and dancing away to the music of Andy Grammar and Mason Ramsey, the THON dancers may have relied on pain relievers to help them get through the 48 hours – and maybe some cough drops from singing along.  Penn State student nurses, along with faculty and staff of the nursing department, were there to pass medications to those students in need and regulate their intake.

VALLEY sat down with Julie Tooma, a junior majoring in nursing, on her first experience with passing medications THON weekend.

Tooma says that the medication station has about four to five junior nursing majors on staff at all times, along with at least two faculty members and one senior nursing student to supervise. Juniors are mainly on staff for about four hours to gain clinical hours. “Earlier THON week, dancers who have scheduled medications, like birth control for example, had to drop them off and gave their dose of meds to us and we filed them under their dancer number,” says Tooma.

The nursing station supplies the medications needed for all dancers, both prescribed and over-the-counter. Advil and Tylenol are given to dancers in need every four hours. Tooma says that they file the dosage taken by each dancer under their dancer number to ensure they do not overdose on any medications. “We also supply band-aids, tissues, Tums, things like that.”

Tooma explains that it is all controlled by a filing system within the computers to keep things from getting hectic. “Different computers go by dancer number, computer one would be like dancers one through 70 and so on, dancers would come up and say what they needed and we would give it to them.”

One of the most important things to keep in mind when talking to a dancer is to refrain from telling them the time. “If they were taking a scheduled medication that needed to be taken at a certain time, we had a big white board and we would write their dancer number so they would know and their DR caption would know that they had a scheduled medication since they couldn’t know the time,” says Tooma. “That way neither the dancer or captain would forget if they took their medication at the specific time.”

Tooma says being a student nursing major is rewarding in many ways; however, she says it can be difficult to watch dancers who are in pain. “A dancer wanted another Advil, but it was too soon and he was mad because he was in pain and he said he got it a half hour ago but it was really five minutes and I felt so bad.”

Along with their THON partner, Delta Kappa Epsilon, SNAPS – The Student Nursing Association at Penn State in which Tooma is a member – helped raise money in the fight to end pediatric cancer.

Nursing students go through various clinical experiences to gain knowledge in each field. THON is considered part of their pediatric clinical, as they do it FTK.


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