Jennifer (Rhonda) Kilborn
Jennifer (Rhonda) Kilborn

The following letter was sent in an email to our nursing instructors and dean from a 2019 graduate who is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in her first year as a registered nurse at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Hello everyone,

Well, here I am working in the real world of nursing in the middle of a pandemic.  Who would have guessed?

I wanted to thank you— for the kindness, the time you spend with your students, and for teaching me about the world of nursing and all it encompasses.  

You see, I never would have guessed that I would be in the position I am in my first year working as an RN.   I work in the AHeart (Adult Health Rotation) at Norfolk General Hospital.  At first, it was frustrating every time I worked a new unit, until I finally reached the dreaded COVID-19 unit.

That first, night that I found out I would be floated to that unit (and it's often now) I cried inside.  I was scared. I wanted to run. But looking back at that first night, Mrs. K (Trudy Kuehn) was right:  “I'm trained for this.”  I reached back and tried to remember everything I could from school.  From that first day of learning to properly wash my hands with Mrs. Lowe, to working the IV pumps with Mrs. Little, and of course, knowing all I can about the "Why" of my patients from Mrs. K. 

As I tied my PPE gown, put on my mask, gloves and eye protection, it was SURREAL!   This IS what I've trained for.  I have my wonderful professors to thank for solid fundamentals to build upon.  As I donned my PPE armor, I pushed fear aside. There is a person I need to care for, to comfort, to answer question and just be present in their lonely COVID quarantine.   It’s so important to know the meds (thanks Mrs. Lowe) and the lab values (thanks Mrs. K) but also to be present for THEM— the patient. 

Every day I learn more about being a good nurse.  It never ends.  I truly believe I can and will be a great nurse in these trying times, because I was given the best fundamentals from the greatest of nurses and professors.

Thank you all.
Be safe.
R. Jennifer Kilborn, RN
2019 PDCCC graduate