by Debbie Hazian
Early exposure to nursing
Childhood experiences can leave impressions that last a lifetime. Genevieve Sarro ’18, the oldest of five children delivered by midwives, remembers talking with them about basic infant care for her newborn siblings. She was just 8 years old.
“It was those really positive experiences with nursing as a child that drove me to the medical field as an adult,” Sarro said.
Comfortable in a hospital setting
Sarro volunteered at a local hospital while in high school and “knew I would love being in a hospital environment.”
During her junior year at UMass Dartmouth, she began working as a student nurse intern at Rhode Island Hospital, where she still works today, performing basic nursing care such as bathing, feeding, and walking, as well as taking vitals under the supervision of a nurse.
“It allows me to practice some of my nursing skills,” she said.
Study abroad experience in Haiti
For one week during her junior year, Sarro worked at a health care clinic in Haiti, a small island nation that lacks accessible healthcare. She helped with well child and sick exams.
“We would triage them and do head-to-toe focused assessments,” explained Sarro. “We would then diagnose and attempt to treat the issue. In some of the cases, the issues were treated with education and/or over-the-counter medications, but other times, we would have to refer them to hospitals for more emergency cases that we were unable to treat.”
According to Sarro, poor nutrition was common among the children. “The children were often malnourished and would complain of a ‘belly ache.’ When we’d do our assessments to figure it out, it would often be determined that they hadn’t eaten since the previous day. We saw more severe issues, but the majority were related to nutrition and the lack of clean drinking water.”
Sarro said her experience in a Third World, culturally diverse community will be helpful in her healthcare practice. “This experience really put my life into a different perspective. We met the most hard working, resilient people that gave us love and generosity and asked for nothing in return. This experience made me want to further my education to provide care to women in areas of low income and limited access.”
Work with premature infants
Another of Sarro’s memorable experiences was during her senior year clinical internship in the NICU facility for premature infants at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, where she worked with babies and taught their parents how to care for them. She provided basic nursing care and performed more complex procedures.
“I worked one-on-one with a nurse and assumed every aspect of the role of a professional nurse,” Sarro said. “This helped me to put the information that I learned in lecture into real experiences. These experiences will make me a better and more competent nurse.”
Honors thesis on postpartum depression
All honors students must complete a thesis project a graduation requirement. During her junior year, Sarro worked with her professors at local pediatric and OB-GYN practices to learn how health care facilities screen for postpartum depression. She presented her research at the Eastern Nursing Research Society Conference in New Jersey and again at Scholarship Day at UMass Amherst and here at UMass Dartmouth.
“I found that postpartum depression is a much bigger issue than I would have imagined,” she said. “Twenty percent of all women in the United States suffer from postpartum depression. It is significantly underdiagnosed and undertreated. It not only affects the mother, but affects the entire family unit, so I thought it was important to find out if it is screened for in a pediatrician’s office. If they ask you if anyone in your household smokes or has a gun, then they should be asking about postpartum depression because that also affects the welfare of the child.”
Inspired by UMass Dartmouth faculty
Sarro chose to attend UMass Dartmouth to remain close to her family and was excited to begin clinical studies as early as her sophomore year.
She has had a great experience with her fellow students and faculty in the College of Nursing. “Their knowledge and passion for the nursing profession have inspired me to become a better nurse,” Sarro said.
“I would tell prospective nursing students to enjoy every second because it goes by faster than you can imagine. You will make it through nursing school if you put in the time and effort. It’s definitely worth it,” she added.
Diverse experiences=very busy student leader
At graduation, Sarro will have come full circle in her nursing education, from the young girl eager to learn about caring for newborns to an accomplished nursing graduate who has worked with premature infants, adults, and children in a Third World country. While she has made the most of her diverse experiences, Sarro has also excelled academically and as a student leader.
“Although sometimes it can be overwhelming to try to manage everything, I find that if I take it day by day and use good time management skills, then everything will work itself out,” she said.
Making a difference every day
“I have always wanted to be a nurse since I was a little kid. I wanted to do something in my career that is challenging, interesting, and makes a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis,” said Sarro.
“In the nursing profession, you care for people at their lowest points and can be there for them in a physical and emotional way that can only be achieved in the role of a nurse.
“I think that’s an amazing thing to do.”
After receiving her degree in May, Sarro plans to work as a maternity nurse. Eventually, she hopes to return to her first childhood experience in nursing by becoming a midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner.