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York College education helps nurse find niche in medical field

Jennifer Fimiani stands in front of brown wall for photo.

Not a lot of people know what a wound ostomy nurse does. Up until college, Jennifer Fimiani sure didn’t. Today, though, Jennifer works at Lancaster General Health. Her job: a wound ostomy nurse.

An ostomy is an opening in the body to an organ and is typically a complex wound, something Jennifer specializes in treating. The 1996 York College of Pennsylvania grad credits her alma mater for introducing her to the relatively unknown field.

“York College’s nursing program gives students the opportunity to see nurses in different environments — public health, home care, ER, different rotations,” she says. “This let me know there were various options for me as a nurse.”

York College opened the door

During her time at York College, Jennifer found a chance to work in the City of York’s homeless program. “I was seeing patients under bridges and in their cars,” she says. “I saw many wounds in public health work.”

This exposure, combined with something else she learned as a Spartan, led to an award-winning career treating patients. York College, she says, stresses holistic nursing practice.

“You are treating the patients’ wounds but also their fears, their pain and anxiety, and what they’ve gone through before they came through the door, especially where there has been a traumatic experience,” Jennifer says. “You need to understand who the patient is as a person before you can treat him or her medically.”

Jennifer credits York College for teaching that nursing is more than just what’s in the textbook, requiring students to think about the whole patient and where they came from. She believes this human element is critical now that so much medical work is done on computers. 

Learning to have hard conversations

Developing the personal touch and interacting with people, Jennifer believes, is critical to treating patients successfully. It’s especially important for today’s nursing students.

“The current generation spends so much time on their devices, they don’t always know how to have a conversation,” she says. “Hard conversations, which nursing is full of, are tough if you haven’t had the background. You must talk about doing things people don’t want to do, which may cause pain.”

It’s best to learn this as you learn nursing, Jennifer says. She feels York College does this. “You need to learn to read your patient to get them to do the things they need to do for their health,” she stresses. “A patient must trust the nurse.”

Award winner

A recent winner of the Victoria L. Rich Award, given to someone who “inspires, motivates and influences others to improve patient care and fosters a culture of organizational excellence,” Jennifer cites what she learned at York College for this recognition.

“Patients notice when the nurse is interested and engaged,” she says. “Nurses can guess what a new ostomy patient needs, but the only way to really know is to talk to them and find out.”

This, she believes, relies on those interpersonal skills learned at York College. “Ask the open-ended question—'what is concerning you about this’—and don’t make assumptions.”

Jennifer feels this is particularly important in her nursing area. “People in crisis don’t come with textbook situations. Each person is unique and brings their own experiences to the situation,” she emphasizes. “You must ask questions. I often do this while providing wound care. It’s my way of multi-tasking.”

In management meetings, Jennifer often raises this lesson instilled by York College: always keep focus on the patient, regardless of policies and procedures, or how much time it takes.

Outside of the classroom, York College gave Jennifer a broad understanding that she could find her niche, which she reiterates she never thought would be wound care.

“I’m fortunate because I’ve been in this for 20 years, and I like it,” she says. “You need to find a lane in nursing you enjoy, that’s how you excel. “York College pushes you to do this by taking turns in various areas so you can find your lane.”

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