1:27 p.m., Sept. 13, 2010----Marissa Merson, Audrey Arcuri, Brittany Drazich and Lisa Davidson have been named Jeanne K. Buxbaum Scholars at the University of Delaware for the 2010-11 academic year.
Buxbaum is the benefactor of the scholarships and assistantships, which are awarded to undergraduate and graduate nursing students who demonstrate academic excellence and a sincere interest in older adults or persons experiencing sensory deprivation.
Buxbaum Scholars have an opportunity to work as research assistants with Veronica Rempusheski, who holds the Jeanne K. Buxbaum Chair of Nursing Science, to broaden their research experience in aging and receive hands-on experience in proposed and funded projects and activities.
Merson, a junior Honors Program student pursuing a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN), spent the past summer working as a personal assistant to a woman with a brain injury. She would like to extend her experiences in home care to include hospice care.
Her long-term goal is to work in an assisted-living facility because, she says, “I believe it is very important for the elderly to retain as much independence as possible, while still living in a safe environment free of hazards.”
Merson credits her grandmother for her belief that human contact can be as powerful as any drug.
“Marissa's insight and attention to detail have been evident through her work as a research assistant on our National Institutes of Health-funded study of elderly with cancer and their caregivers,” says Rempusheski.
Arcuri is a senior BSN student who plans to continue her education in gerontology after graduation. Prompted by the fulfillment she felt during fieldwork with the elderly during her junior year, she sought work as a care assistant in the homes of elderly persons. In building relationships with elderly persons in their own homes and personal spaces, she experienced a “nursing epiphany” -- a newfound passion for care of the elderly and the discovery of “what I was born to do.”
Arcuri credits her Italian grandparents, with whom she lives during summers, for sparking her interest and compassion for the elderly.
“Audrey has exhibited a high degree of initiation, motivation and enthusiasm in seeking to expand her experiences with the elderly,” says Rempusheski. “She is fully embracing the value of being present for her elder clients and appreciating them for their unique characteristics as they age.”
Drazich is a sophomore Honors Program BSN student with a minor in political science, a combination that allows her to blend her interests in gerontology and health care reform.
During high school she worked as a waitress in the health care center of a continuing care retirement village. She credits the elderly residents with turning her “part-time job into a life- altering experience.” She feels that as a nurse she can best help the elderly on both the mental and physical levels.
“Brittany's enthusiasm and energy are infectious; she exudes love of life and people, and it is easy to see how her elderly clients would gravitate to her,” says Rempusheski. “She strives to excel in all she attempts and accepts with grace and good humor the challenges.”
Davidson, who is pursuing a master of science degree in nursing in the family nurse practitioner (FNP) track, received a BSN from Lake Superior State University in Michigan in 2008.
She says that her discomfort with long-term care settings and older adults changed dramatically when she enrolled in UD's graduate program in 2009. Her interest in gerontology was sparked when she attended a meeting of the Delaware Nurses' Association Advanced Practice Counsel as an assignment for one of her first graduate nursing courses. She then had a clinical experience in long-term care in which her “preceptor's interest and desire to care for the elderly was truly contagious.”
Davidson's goal is to become a clinical preceptor for undergraduate and graduate nursing students, where she will be able to share her passion for geriatrics, as her preceptor did for her. After gaining some experience as an FNP, she will consider obtaining a doctoral degree in nursing with a focus in gerontology.
“Intellectual curiosity and sensitivity to the challenges of aging that she sees in her practice are the characteristics that describe Lisa,” says Rempusheski.
Merson, Arcuri, Drazich and Davidson join continuing Buxbaum Scholars Zoey Call, Ashley Martinez and Michelle Kennedy.
Photo by Evan Krape