Sept. 21, 2023

Flex Friday: Noah Hollingsworth

Flex Friday is brought to you by your VP Communications, Undergraduate Nursing Society to showcase the excellence of our undergraduate nursing students at UCalgary
Noah Hollingsworth
Noah Hollingsworth

Welcome to another Flex Friday feature of the 2023/24 year! This week, we are introducing Noah Hollingsworth, a third-year direct entry student currently in the beginning of his Term 5 experience. Noah shares the inspired research, volunteer, and administrative experiences and active lifestyle that he participates in alongside being a nursing student. Meet Noah!

Can you please introduce yourself and your journey to nursing?
“I’ve always known I’ve wanted to go into health care,” Noah recalls, “I did sports medicine all throughout high school and loved it. “I really fell in love with it [the program] in Term 3,” from listening to his instructor’s strength-based and holistic perspective of nursing.

Why did you choose to come to the University of Calgary?
“UCalgary is a prestigious program. The cadaver labs attracted me as well. I’ve heard UCalgary is a great research school, and I’m planning on going to graduate school, so I definitely wanted to get involved in that.”

Have you been involved in any research opportunities yourself?
“This summer, I received a PURE research grant to do Peripheral Intravenous Catheterization (PIVC) research. PIVC is a complex skill, which is often difficult for nursing students to successfully complete on their first attempt…so one of the things I did on the team I joined was help test if The Quiet Eye, which is a specific psychomotor gaze, would help PIVC [insertion] on [the] first trial."

As a research assistant for the project he “was involved in knowledge translation work, which involved reaching out to community members and presenting our work to make an impact.”

What is your main take away from your research experience?
“I absolutely love being able to interact with community members and get all these different perspectives. I wasn’t expecting to be involved in research in my professional career…but to help bring things into actual practice, that’s something that would be really interesting for me." From this experience, Noah shares a profound lesson about delving into new experiences to open up novice pathways, from interacting with graduate assistants, to being involved in the trials.

What other work experiences do you currently partake in?
Noah also currently works as an administrative assistant at a physiotherapy clinic. “A large part of that is interacting with clients on a day-to-day basis by filing insurance claims…and I do some physio assisting, so I’ll clean up beds, put on hot packs, I’ve removed acupuncture needles.”

From this experience, Noah explains that he has learned “the importance of clear communication, as I interact with newer immigrants and a population that does not have English as a first language. It has challenged my way of assuming."

Nursing students in lab

Hollingsworth and his clinical group in Term 3 donning PPE

Are you currently volunteering anywhere?
“During the summer, I volunteered with Taking Strides, which is an organization looking to promote physical literacy in children with disabilities: we hang out and play sports. I’d say patience is actually one of the biggest things I took away from there; the kids are super rambunctious and full of energy.”

As both of your work and volunteer experiences have a focus on active living and mobility, is that something you’re particularly interested in?
Noah shares his personal interests in remaining active, by going to the gym, and spending time outdoors including hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing.

What would you say is your greatest strength in nursing school?
“Strength for me comes down to organization — from taking course outlines and making a list of everything like writing down deadlines for papers, I think that’s helped me really well throughout nursing school, in both theory and clinical.”

What would you say is a challenge in nursing school?
“Probably the amount of reading. I’m used to more lecture based reading [so] that was a challenge figuring out how to prioritize and get the key points.”

Has nursing school been different or the same as your expectations?
“I would say it’s been different in a lot of ways.” Noah says he assumed university would be “this big institution, with pretentious professors, where we’re going to get shuffled around a lot, but it has been more relational and personable than I thought it would be. I’ve made some good relationships with various instructors throughout the faculty. I was also assuming it would be more exam-based as well, but it’s been, so far at least, project-based, discussion-based.”

What have been your favourite subjects so far, and are you looking forward to any?

“I enjoyed community health more than I thought I would, especially harm reduction areas. I can absolutely see myself working there or in sexual health. I also enjoyed perinatal and labour and delivery a lot more than I thought I would. As much as pharm[ocology] and pathophysiology are intimidating, I’m also looking forward to those: I like learning the behind the scenes and how problem-solving [oriented] it is.”

What has been your biggest takeaway so far?
“Challenging first assumptions is probably the biggest one, no matter the situation. Stepping back, taking an explorative approach rather than acting on assumptions — for example, in long-term care when I had a specific resident and considering the condition she had, I assumed there wasn’t much personality, but once I got to know her she was super funny and lively, so rather than [continuing to assume], I went ahead and got to know the resident.”

What would you say is your biggest success in nursing school?
“I did get a sense of success going through my first clinical placement since it was my first time in a health-care setting, and [I saw] myself improve over time working with peers and practitioners, informing good relationship building.”

Noah also mentions the success he felt this summer, from “applying for and receiving this research grant, and working on getting published with the lab, considering I was only in second year when I applied, and something I did is going to contribute to the research community; that’s super cool to think about.”

What has been your best memory of your clinical experiences or courses?
“A couple memories come to mind, mainly of our community placement since we [Noah’s Term 3 clinical group] were together all the time. At the end of the term, we went to a horror themed escape room together, so it was the eight of us being scared by some dude dressed as Jack the Ripper. I think that summarizes most of clinical, where you think it’s going to be super focused on the experience, which it is, but you also end up forming bonds with these strangers by the end of the term.”

Reflecting on his course experience, Noah says working on various semester-long projects, “is almost daunting, but you also get to work together to make something and see it unfold.”

What has been the most wholesome memory of your nursing experience that you would carry on after school?
“I’ve had a couple times where the whole clinical group goes out and does something, and one that stands out is after our community placement, all eight of us and our clinical instructor just spent two hours sitting around a table and talking. Just hearing her share her perspective and everyone else have this open conversation was amazing.”

Nursing students outside

Noah and his group on the last day of clinical in Term 4

How do you think you have personally evolved since starting nursing school?
“In terms of my personal evolution, I think I have become more outgoing. I was definitely more introverted at the start of university, but nursing being so relational has influenced me to open up, speak my mind, and ask more questions.”

Noah also comments on the evolution of his relationships. “Growing up, you tend to make friends with people who grow up next to you, but being in a setting with people who have common interests to you makes more meaningful relationships.”

How do you think you have evolved academically?
“Academically, I think I have become a lot better at prioritizing. I remember in high school, I was doing some really unnecessary things [to achieve academic success], so learning what is and isn’t important has been helpful.”

How do you think you have evolved professionally?
“Collaboration: in high school, I got used to doing things myself, so getting together with other individuals in the program has been awesome to give and receive feedback.”

What are some goals you would like to achieve in your nursing career?
“I want to work towards being a nurse practitioner, mainly because I want to work in family medicine, in that community setting, but also still traditional medical nursing, and also getting to build that relationship with clients over time. Also working in sexual health — same kind of thing: [building] relationships and helping [clients] in really vulnerable circumstances. But I find that changes every term, so I’m curious to see my answer at the end of year 3 [Noah’s upcoming year of study].”

What advice would you give to your first-year self?
“Honestly, I would say get out there, in first year especially. I cast aside joining clubs and that’s something I would do differently, even doing some clubs that pertain to hobbies, I think is a good way to meet people."

Even in those labs and clinicals, really just get out there and talk to everyone - that’s something I did do and I’m glad I did. Also in research, if you get an opportunity, absolutely just take it, even if it’s for a couple months, I think it’s a super good thing to have on your resume.

“I also think give yourself a little grace, especially in first year; I was really hard on myself with my own expectations. You hear all the time, grades don’t necessarily make a good nurse, so that’s an important thing to keep in mind.”

Young man hiking on mountain

Noah out hiking in Kananaskis

Who is your greatest role model?
“My mom is probably a big one. She is a social worker so talking with her throughout the program, and getting her professional perspective and experiences has been interesting.”

From those conversations, have you noticed any stark differences between the nursing and social work professions?
“We’re a lot more medical body-oriented, but both really have that social justice component that I’ve noted. Social work is a lot more focused on case management and helping people financially.”

What are the best places to study on campus?
“I often study on the fourth floor of the Hunter Student Commons. It's a quiet place, nice furniture; being by those windows, staring out, is super nice.”

What are your go to places to get food from, on campus?
“My go-to’s are BakeChef and KBBQ.”

What did you do in your free time this summer?
“This summer, I tried to get out to the mountains to hike a lot. I bought a gravel bike, so I’ve been taking that out a lot. My friends and I will take them down to Inglewood and go to the breweries down there. I read quite a bit; I usually gravitate toward thrillers and mysteries. I play the guitar and go to the gym fairly often.”

What was the highlight of your week?
“I hiked Opal Ridge, in Kananaskis, with my friends. It was incredibly windy but really beautiful.”

What do you do to care for yourself during tough moments?
“I try to do meditation as much as possible. I really enjoy that. I find in the middle of a term, I get really frazzled, so just breathing through it is helpful for me to clear my head.”

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