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Teen Volunteer Returns as Cardiac Nurse

During the summer of 2010, Jasmine Halsey, RN, began serving on the Adult Cardiovascular Surgery unit (S5S) as a UAB Medicine Teen Volunteer (TAV). After graduating from nursing school in August 2016, she found a position on that same unit. No one is more pleased about that turn of events than Halsey – except perhaps her nurse manager, her volunteer coordinator, and her colleagues.

“It’s the best accomplishment of my life, getting my nursing degree and then finding a job here, Halsey says. “Because I had entered the TAV program on this unit starting the summer before I was in high school, it was like coming home.”

Halsey was in the middle of her preceptorship while seeking a nursing position last year. She had been searching online for jobs when she ran across the S5S listing. A few days after applying, she decided to walk over and speak to someone in person.

Nurse manager Candace Grimes-Smiley just happened to be at the front desk when Halsey visited the unit that morning. She recalls Halsey’s rather bold greeting: “I’m not sure if you remember me. I volunteered here a long time ago. I want to work on this unit now.”

Grimes-Smiley did not remember Halsey, but the staff did.

“In a matter of minutes members of the S5S unit were gathering around to greet Jasmine,” Grimes-Smiley recalls. “Everyone was saying ‘Jasmine, how are you? It’s so great to see you.’ She had clearly made an impression on them during her time as a volunteer. I thought right then that I should take a good look at her application. And now she’s with us.”

Halsey recalls that visit as well, because it solidified her opinion that this particular unit was where she needed to be.

“When I returned to interview for a position, almost all of the staff were still working here, and that spoke volumes to me,” she says. “It showed me that this was a unit with a strong nurse manager and a team who wanted to stay together. Of course I was very touched that they remembered me, since my volunteer work was so long ago. I felt like I was coming home. I knew I wanted to be a nurse, but I really valued my relationships with the staff on that unit.”

Carolyn Matthews, volunteer coordinator for UAB Medicine Volunteer Services, sees it that way, too.

“We are always thrilled to see that kind of success for our volunteers,” Matthews says. “I remember Jasmine fondly as a part of our TAV program. At first she was adamant she was going to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, but her time as a volunteer made her begin considering nursing. We’ve recently learned, through a survey we’ve conducted, that there are many stories like hers. Volunteers learn the value of each care team member, they discover additional career paths, and they witness what really goes on in the whole hospital. They get an impression that’s quite different from what they may have seen on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or ‘ER.’”

In less than a year, Halsey has made her own impressions on the S5S team and others. Nursing student Lydia Casey notes that Halsey is already passing along knowledge at this early stage in her career.

“She goes out of her way to answer our questions or stop to give us feedback,” Casey says. “Jasmine is always available for us. She’s a great mentor.”

That’s the same pathway of knowledge that Halsey says makes her experience at UAB Medicine rewarding.

“I love my co-workers,” Halsey says. “Everyone on this unit is so helpful and instructive, and that’s important to a new nurse. It makes all the difference to me, because nursing is always a learning experience; it’s part of gaining expertise. So I’m very grateful to be here.”