Rudnicki blazes trail for GGC nursing students
Jordan Rudnicki, ’16, works in the intensive care unit at Gwinnett Medical Center and was one of the first to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Georgia Gwinnett.
Moved to care for those who are forgotten and to advocate change for those who cannot help themselves, Rudnicki decided to pursue nursing after studying at a Bible college in Argentina.
“That experience opened my eyes to the tremendous need that exists in the world,” she said. “I wasn’t just struck by the severe poverty I saw, or by the number of children without a home or clothing. I was struck by the overwhelming need for love and compassion.”
Rudnicki’s motivations were a perfect fit for GGC’s program, which began enrolling students in 2014.
“We talk a lot about creating a ‘culture of caring.’ This concept refers to being present with those around us, engaging with them and allowing them to be vulnerable. It involves caring for people holistically, recognizing the individual physical, emotional and spiritual needs of each person. It means being a leader and empowering others to learn to provide for themselves,” she said. “A ‘culture of caring’ means putting myself aside so I can care for and serve another.”
Rudnicki said she believes this concept represents not only the nursing program, but the college as a whole.
“I am thankful to have been at a school and part of a nursing program where every one of my teachers knew my name and dedicated their time to helping me succeed,” she said. “I could actually get to know all my classmates because there were only 30 of us in the room, and I took part in state-of-the-art learning through flipped classrooms and technology integration.”
In a flipped classroom environment, homework is done first. Students view online materials before class, and then participate in hands-on, laboratory and simulation activities in class that reinforce conceptual learning. Such innovative instruction and its emphasis on caring are hallmarks of the GGC program.
“It is important to train nurses to work in the environments they will encounter in actual clinical settings,” said Dr. Sharon Grason, director of nursing. “We prepare our students to function effectively in health care’s dynamic, multi-disciplinary and highly interactive work environments.”
Only up to 32 students are accepted into the program each fall and spring semester. Applicants must have completed their first two years of college and have an excellent academic record. Once accepted, students attend a three-day “boot camp.” Uncommon among nursing programs, this comprehensive orientation prepares students for success in the program.
“Ours is Georgia’s first nursing program designed to be concept-based from its beginning, and only one of two in the state,” said Dr. Lois C. Richardson, then-interim senior vice president of Academic and Student Affairs and provost. “Combined with the program’s selectivity, this approach instills a high level of prestige and credibility in a GGC nursing degree.”
Housed in the Allied Health and Sciences building, GGC’s nursing program is supported by an Interactive Clinical Learning Center (ICLC), including a Simulation Suite with four simulation labs equipped with wireless technology for managing patient bed simulations. The simulation mannequins are so life-like they mimic virtually any medical situation, even childbirth.
The ICLC also contains a 14-bed Nursing Skills Laboratory, resembling a large intensive care unit, complete with a nurses’ station. All students learn electronic health records through software used in actual clinical settings. Another unique feature in GGC’s nursing program is the mandatory use of laptops and e-texts for learning.
GGC’s faculty also have a distinctive approach to their roles and interactions with students.
“Our policies and even our language support the expectation that our students will succeed,” said Dr. Diane White, dean of the School of Health Sciences. “We don’t just role model the concept of ‘care for.’ We also ‘care about.’ This provides a learning environment very different from that of some other programs.”
Beyond the classroom, Rudnicki was an active student leader who helped form the Gwinnett Grizzly Bear Association of Nursing Students and served as its secretary. She also served on the board of the Georgia Association of Nursing Students.
In addition, she worked as a full-time nanny, married her husband, Joe, and became mother to her son, Walter – all while maintaining exceptional grades. In fact, Rudnicki was GGC’s choice for the Georgia State Legislature’s annual Academic Recognition Day Award, bestowed on one student from each University System of Georgia institution.
At the college’s first nursing pinning ceremony, she received the first-ever Pillar Award.
Rudnicki also was selected to represent the class of 2016 as senior speaker for the spring commencement ceremony and encouraged her fellow graduates to retain GGC’s caring spirit.
“As a member of GGC’s charter nursing class, I hope to take the culture I’ve experienced here into my practice of caring for others,” she said in her remarks. “I hope to improve the way people are treated to make outcomes better for future generations. I challenge each of you to do the same in your future professions.”
While excited to face the challenges and rewards of a nursing career, Rudnicki was fully aware of the serious nature of her work caring for critically ill patients in intensive care – expressing an unusual farewell to friends and faculty after the ceremony:
“I hope I never see you.”
Read more about the college, its student and alumni in GGC's Engage Magazine.