For Sunny Baek, starting her first year of nursing education in the middle of a global pandemic was not part of the plan, nor was it easy.
As with many of her fellow nursing students, Baek has found it challenging to feel a sense of community while navigating and experiencing a new program completely online.
Yet, despite these difficulties, she has made it her mission to foster meaningful engagement and connections with her cohort, and her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Baek has recently been elected as the new President of the Nursing Undergraduate Society (NUS).
“Part of the reason I chose the BScN program at Bloomberg Nursing was because I had witnessed the close bond that previous graduates, including many of my friends, shared with their peers,” says Baek. “Since day one of my program, I’ve made it my goal to help my cohort have that same experience, working with what is available virtually.”
Each year, the new undergraduate nursing cohort creates a Facebook page to help foster connection and discussion, Baek decided to be bold right from the start and jump in to introduce herself. “I wrote ‘Hi I’m Sunny, I’m excited to be here, these are my nursing goals,’” recalls Baek, “Thankfully, many of my peers also commented and that kind of opened up the early stages of us coming together as a group, as a team.”
Baek used the Facebook discussion as a launching pad for one of her popular initiatives, a Zoom library that allows students to study together, albeit virtually.
“I’m glad to see those are still actively running,” says Baek, “it has really helped us when we need to share concerns or discuss things we are learning in clinic, it’s a small way we can uplift each other.”
From a very early age, Baek knew that she wanted to work in health care and to help people, but she wasn’t quite sure which career path to follow. One summer she was working closely with nurses on a project that supported marginalized members of the community.
“That was the ‘eureka’ moment for me, seeing the tangible outcomes of how the nurses were promoting health and wellness and interacting with their patients,” says Baek, “it was then that I became determined to enter the nursing profession.”
As president of NUS, Baek is hoping to continue to create a safe learning environment for her peers, with a goal of having graduates of the program leave with a sense of community and a bond that might help individuals maintain their compassion even after a long day on placement.
Baek is confident in the team she is working with and excited about the initiatives they have on the horizon including the promotion of Indigenous Health initiatives, trauma-informed care workshops, and more. She is also looking forward to utilizing more resources and the added level of engagement that NUS has successfully sustained over the last few years, to amplify outreach and community building, especially for incoming students.
“Nursing is a profession that can easily be stressful, there are a lot of discussions around burnout. I’m hopeful that my cohort will be able to continue to stay motivated in this profession, that we will help to create a healthier work environment,” says Baek. “The pandemic has left us with some work to do.”