York College Nursing student sets her eyes on pediatric care after Hershey externship
Sometimes you just know where you belong. That was the case for Taylor Lescalleet ’21. Growing up in Hanover, Pennsylvania, Lescalleet was no stranger to York College of Pennsylvania. When she decided to study Nursing, she made the choice to attend York College almost immediately. “I knew I didn’t need to look anywhere else,” she says. “This was my first choice. The program at York College was going to prepare me to excel as a nurse.”
In her junior year, Lescalleet went to her advisor to talk about externships. While they aren’t required in the program, Lescalleet wanted to get as much in-the-field experience available to her. She applied to programs at WellSpan York Hospital, Penn State Children’s Hospital, and Johns Hopkins. When she was accepted into the Pediatric Intermediate Care Unit at Penn State’s Hershey campus, she again felt her gut tell her that this is where she belonged.
A unique experience
Pediatric Intermediate Care is a step down from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) but still offers a bit more care and attention than the regular pediatric floor at Penn State Children’s Hospital. Here, Lescalleet was paired with a nurse and spent 40 hours a week from mid-May until the end of July working a split of day shifts and night shifts.
She worked with children who came in from the Emergency Room, babies who outgrew the NICU, and children who had genetic complexities requiring special care. She also saw children who were cancer patients—an area of care that is personal for Lescalleet because her older sister is a cancer survivor.
Although her sister went through treatments before Lescalleet was born, she knows the impact her sister’s illness had on the family. She once interviewed the physician who treated her sister; the way he spoke about helping kids confirmed that Lescalleet wanted to pursue pediatric medicine.
Helping children heal
Lescalleet thinks of nursing as a balance between lecture and hands-on experience. There’s a comfort in knowing the material and having the right answer on an exam, but there’s something very meaningful about connecting with a patient, she says.
“It’s so rewarding to be able to say I was part of their treatment team at some point,” she says of her Hershey experience. “They might be too young to know who I was, but it was a different face from all the others they saw in a day.”
Working at the hospital during heightened COVID-19 regulations, Lescalleet also got to see how important nurses are to working on the frontlines. While she didn’t work directly with COVID-19 patients, she saw nurses on her floor follow ever-changing protocols to meet the needs of their patients.
“I think what I’ve taken away from the whole experience is just how rewarding it is to be a nurse,” she says. “York College has helped me find a lot of opportunities that confirm this is the career for me. I’m looking forward to making a difference.”