Wilkes University grad helping new nursing students in coronavirus battle

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — This year, National Nurses Week has been expanded to a month-long celebration during May and for one local university, it’s a point of pride.

There are some Wilkes graduates who are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic inspiring future generations.

“Our nursing program, as well as our pharmacy program, are two of our largest academic endeavours at the university,” Margaret Steele, Wilkes University chief development officer, said.

That means colonel pride runs deep at hospitals in Wilkes-Barre and across the nation.

“We have people here in the greater northeastern Pennsylvania region but we have people all over,” Steele said.

You don’t have to go too far to find one star pupil. Just under 100 miles away, Christina Sirianni says her Wilkes masters degree has prepared her for the work she’s been doing in one of the first and most heavily hit regions of the Keystone State, Montgomery County.

“I work in a 14-bed intensive care unit and I’m a staff nurse there. I’ve been working lots of weekends,” Sirianni said.

Sirianni graduated from Wilkes University in 2018 with a masters degree, a major step adding to a 20-plus year resume at the hospital. She now also works at the lab and is a professor of nursing students, giving them first-hand knowledge.

“What I find is that some of our new nursing students and the graduates, they’re fearful of getting into hospitals, so I think it’s nice for us who still work on the bedside and in the trenches to give them that knowledge so that it alleviates some of their fears,” Sirianni said.

Teaching and staying bedside means keeping ahead of the curve for this seasoned nurse and the ones she’s molding to follow.

“I think it’s really important because it keeps it real for your students and you stay up to date on the latest changes in the nursing profession and in medicine,” Sirianni said.

Advice from the Wilkes University alumna on the front lines? Basics: keep up the handwashing, mask wearing, and social distancing.

“These are the proven methods that will help flatten the curve and decrease the spread of the infection at this point,” Sirianni said.

Wilkes University has an array of alumni working on the many fronts of this pandemic. You can learn more about the former Colonels here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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