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THON’s Nursing Committee Helps Keep Dancers On Their Feet

There are 708 dancers participating in THON this year, and a giant portion of them will present an array of medical conditions requiring them to take medications frequently. However, while on the floor, dancers can’t responsibly administer their own meds on account of the million other things going on in the Bryce Jordan Center during the big weekend. That’s where the College of Nursing THON committee comes in.

Throughout the year, the College of Nursing works side-by-side with the Dancer Relations committee in preparation for THON weekend. For almost ten years, the committee’s goal has been working toward providing streamline medication administration to dancers to ensure their health and well-being are cared for appropriately. It also lessens the burden on them, so the dancers can focus on enjoying the weekend, and not have to worry about making sure they remember to take their meds.

“We feel that this is an important role,” Cindy Sullivan, faculty volunteer and coordinator of the NURS 306 class, said. “The dancers don’t know the time, therefore, if they have regularly scheduled medication, they won’t know when to take it – we provide this service.”

The entire committee manages the logistical aspects of the medication administration, including sorting, labeling, and storing it for drop-off and transportation to the BJC, as well as managing shifts and administrating the meds. Medical information pertinent to dancers during THON weekend is collected the week before and organized according to the dancer’s individual number.

The College of Nursing’s THON committee consists of nine seniors, one junior, and two volunteer Penn State faculty members – Sullivan, and Mary Anne Ventura. The seniors made their way onto the team through volunteering to be a part of the college’s Medication Administration Team, while the junior was hand-picked by the two faculty members.

The junior student’s role, a new position this year, was created to act as a sort of ambassador for the rising senior class so that precedents are set. The idea behind establishing the ambassador position meant that the nursing committee didn’t have to start from scratch and teach the replaced volunteers the same information all over again – saving a lot of headache.

The entire medication administration program during THON weekend became so practical that it’s now a part of the nursing major’s curriculum as the class NURS 306: Nursing Care of Children and Adolescents, offered solely to junior nursing students. Throughout THON’s full 46 hours, the students are assigned four-hour shifts with four dancers at a time. The nursing students’ jobs are to administer prescribed over-the-counter medication to those dancing under safe faculty supervision.

“What makes this responsibility so special to the College of Nursing is that not only do we help dancers maintain their health, [the program] is also a unique opportunity for real experience in the field for our students, as some medication requires clinical judgement prior to administration,” Sullivan and Ventura said.

Each student on the Nursing committee is designated a certain role. The members are Jill Ryan, the Dancer Relation Committee Member (DRCM) Liaison (and Onward State photographer) Kevin Cacela, the Software Liaison, Medication Drop Off and Pick-up Specialists Alex Chimahusky and Christin Folwarczny, Supplies Leader Caitlin Kenny, Apparel Designer Kristen Jacobs, Leaders Kelsey Robinson and Christina Zoll, Junior Ambassador Marissa McEwen, and Kellee Edmund, who handles scheduling logistics.

The Nursing Committee’s role is unbelievably essential for THON’s safety, and thanks to its dedicated volunteers in health care, along with the assistance of the Dancer Relations committee, all 708 dancers can take on the biggest weekend of the year without harm.

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About the Author

Kaitlyn Dividock

Kaitlyn is a staff writer for Onward State who is entirely too enthusiastic about Pittsburgh sports, music festivals, and crude humor. She is a senior English major who concentrates in Professional and Media Writing and minors in Sociology. She is really fun and very cool, and her favorite color is red. If for some reason you can't find her, she's probably at Primanti's with an ice cold IC Light in her hand. You can follow her on Twitter (@kaitdivi) if you want quality #content, or contact her via email at [email protected]

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