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Endicott College nursing alumna Ashley Mueskes '16No one was completely prepared for the COVID-19 crisis, but nursing alumna Ashley Mueskes ’16 was glad her Endicott experience gave her the tools she needs to succeed as an ICU nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“I am so blessed for the education I received at Endicott College,” says Mueskes. “From the small classroom setting, early start on clinical rotations, supportive professors, simulation hours, and preceptorships, I was set up to succeed because of Endicott. My senior year I was fortunate to complete a one on one internship in an intensive care unit in Cambridge, Mass. This experience built my confidence and skills to prepare me to work in the ICU after graduation.”

But it wasn’t just the classroom and internship experience that prepared her. Mueskes was also a successful student-athlete on the women’s soccer team, where she learned the value of teamwork and how no one can fight this battle alone. “Being a member and captain of the women's soccer team at Endicott also prepared me for this battle—never underestimate the value of a hardworking, supportive team,” she says. “You prepare as much as you can and when the ‘game’ begins, you put all of those skills to test. Many of my former teammates are also fighting COVID-19 across the country and I cannot commend them enough for their efforts as well.”

All this experience has been vital to her success in the ICU at Mass General, which became one of the first units in the country to be converted into a solely COVID-19 designated one. For over two months now, Mueskes and her colleagues have been working extensively with patients who have tested positive and become very ill. “This has been an extremely unique time in health care,” says Mueskes. “We have had to adapt daily to new challenges and practice changes. These patients are extremely sick and unstable —requiring ventilators, high dose medication drips, and sometimes proning. It has been an all-around team fight to keep our patients safe.”

To say it’s hard and emotionally taxing work would be an understatement. And with current social distancing guidelines in effect, it can be even harder to find support. Mueskes now tries to find that support at a distance.” She says, “As nurses, we face a lot of physical and emotional stress. I personally rely a lot on the relationships I have with my family and friends to ease some of the burden we take on at work. Now, having to distance myself from my family and friends, it has been extremely difficult to de-stress outside of work. They have all been an immense support from ‘afar’ and I am looking forward to hugging all of them when this is all over!”

Fortunately, her team remains strong, “I cannot speak enough to the team I have been a part of at Mass General. As a newer employee, my coworkers and managers have been nothing short of amazing. We have all tried our best to be supportive of one another during a time that continues to challenge each of us mentally and physically.”