Clarksville, TN – About 300 students in the Austin Peay State University (APSU) School of Nursing gathered on a recent January morning at Clement Auditorium to recommit to a practice that lies at the heart of the profession: civility.
At the beginning of every semester, School of Nursing students and faculty recommit to civility. The students sign a civility pledge, and faculty and Student Nurses Association members lead the body in a civility ceremony.
“It’s very important to our faculty, and it’s very important to our students,” said Dr. Eve Rice, interim director of the School of Nursing. “Ultimately, it’s very important to our profession.
“These are all brand new nurses going out into the world, and so many of them are nurturers,” Rice added. “We’re coaching them and, hopefully, we can make a difference in their actions so they can make a difference when they go out and start in their profession.”
Students, faculty addrock-solid tradition
During the January 24th civility ceremony, faculty and several students donned “Kindness Matters” T-shirts and introduced a new School of Nursing tradition: civility rocks.
“This year, we’re adding these rocks that we’re going to pass around,” Rice said. The rocks will celebrate “just showing respect to one another. It’s an ongoing kindness act throughout the semester.”
The rocks carry such words of praise as “AP Loves U,” “Yes, U” and “Be Kind.”
Students or faculty who are awarded a rock can take the rock to Rice, and “I will give you an act of kindness back.”
Rice also recognizes civility students and faculty of the month.
Students recognize importance of civility in school, profession
Nursing senior Chevair Mustafa said recommitting to civility each semester not only underlines the importance of the practice for nurses, but it also helps students to bond.
“It’s an innovative and unique approach to team building, to community building,” she said. “The civility pledge helps you come closer together, and it’s something we’ll carry with us throughout life.
Nursing sophomore Chay Vanzant agreed.
“This reminds us to treat our classmates with civility,” she said. “It reminds us why we got into this program, that we have a passion for people, that we need to treat everyone the same, especially our classmates. We need to be there for one another.”
Civility in real-life practice
Mustafa and fellow nursing senior Blake Burch said practicing civility has helped them in real-world work, such as in last summer’s Vanderbilt Experience: Student Nurse Internship program.
“We already had civility in mind, and I think that’s what separated us from other schools a little bit,” Burch said. “We had been practicing civility in clinical, it was one of the key things we focused on, and it helped us build relationships with our nursing preceptors and the patients and their families.”
Mustafa recalled a recent interaction with a patient at an area hospital.
“He had some emotional difficulties, and I think civility kicked in right away,” she said. “I said to myself, ‘He’s having a hard time, he’s in a hospital setting, and that can be difficult, but I need to be able to give him the compassion, to be able to treat him with respect, regardless of whatever he’s going through, to help him in his care.”
Rice sees examples of civil behavior among her students all the time.
“If we set the example here on campus, and they act in those ways, they’re of course going to go out into the community hospitals and practice that as nurses,” Rice said. “We hear wonderful, wonderful things from the community hospitals about how great team players they are, how respectful they are, how diligent workers they are.”
To learn more
For more about the School of Nursing, go to www.apsu.edu/nursing