Nursing students serve their fellow Villanovans in many ways, including volunteering with the Villanova Emergency Medical Service (VEMS). VEMS, headquartered next to Driscoll Hall in the Health Services Building, is a 100% student-run, free-of-charge volunteer ambulance service licensed and dedicated to providing Basic Life Support (BLS) care to the approximately 10,000 students, faculty, and staff comprising the campus community. While VEMS had moved to the West campus region during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow the health center additional space for COVID patients, the squad hopes to be back “home” this coming year.
In spring 2022, Teagan Sullivan, Mary Fossaceca, Katherine Wyse and Sally Boucher took time out to share some insights on what it is like to be part of the VEMS corps, their inspiration to do so, and how it relates to their career. Each joined VEMS in fall of their freshman year.
Teagan Sullivan, Class of 2024, Wilton, Conn.
- I was drawn to VEMS as I was an EMT in high school and was interested in pursuing EMS during my college years. I also was interested in working with a different patient population as many of the patients at home are 65+ whereas many of the patients at Villanova fall within the 18-22 year age range. Not to mention the members were incredibly welcoming and shared my passion for EMS and helping members of the community.
- I have found that being an EMT/ in VEMS is one of the best things I have done for my nursing education. It has given me a leg up in many capacities such as when it comes to patient communication and assessment skills, for example. Coming into nursing school with this experience has allowed me to have a level of understanding and comfort with many skills that exceed those of my peers. I have been much less afraid to jump into the more difficult parts of my nursing classes because I possess many foundational skills that have come from my previous patient contact experiences with VEMS and my home agency. Through talking with upperclassmen, I have no doubt that my EMS experience will continue to be an asset moving forward.
- One of the main surprises that I have found with VEMS is how truly student-run it is. We operate how any outside ambulance service would with students at the helm. This has been particularly relevant in my life recently as I am currently serving on the executive board as our Scheduling Lieutenant. I am in charge of making the monthly schedule as well as coordinating any events that VEMS participates in such as standbys for athletics, graduation, and Hoops Mania. I work closely with other members of the executive board to make sure that VEMS is able to be in service and effectively serve and support members of the Villanova Community. We receive support from our advisor and many departments across campus but the heart of VEMS is our members.
- This summer, I plan to continue volunteering with my home EMS agency which serves the greater Wilton, Connecticut area.
- As of right now, after graduation, I would be interested in working in emergency medicine. Being a nurse in an ER would combine nursing with my love of emergency care. My time as an EMT has allowed me to find a love in high-intensity situations and the varied natures of patients both of which keep things interesting.
Mary Fossaceca, Class of 2023, Scotch Plains, NJ
- I was drawn to VEMS because I was an EMT in high school and wanted to continue this in college and keep enhancing my patient interaction skills and clinical skills.
- Being in VEMS has helped me a lot with patient interactions, especially with the younger population as this is the majority of the population we see on campus. I found that I am a lot less timid to approach patients during clinical compared to other classmates as I am so used to interacting with patients on a regular basis.
- I have been surprised at how our organization runs compared to other traditional town-run squads. I feel like VEMS fosters a more inclusive environment that wants everyone to learn and grow as providers. Older members are able to mentor younger members and hone in on certain skills which is a unique aspect of emergency care that not every service provides.
- This summer I am externing at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I also work per diem for a medical transport company which I will continue to do throughout the summer as well.
- After graduation, I would ideally like to work in Urgent Care at Sloan Kettering which is an emergency room for Sloan Kettering patients. This would combine my love for emergency care and my passion for oncology as I would be working with oncologic emergencies.
Katherine Wyse, Class of 2023, Wilmette, Ill.
- I decided to apply to VEMS because I had recently received my EMT certification and knew that Villanova had a very established student-run ambulance service. At the student involvement fair, everyone was so welcoming that I knew I wanted to join.
- VEMS has allowed me to improve my patient interaction skills, become more confident in taking vital signs and adapt to unfamiliar situations. The skills that I learned from VEMS have helped me feel more comfortable during clinicals.
- What surprised me most about VEMS was how willing the older members were to answer questions and help the newer members train.
- This summer I will be a nurse extern on the Medical ICU floor at Jefferson Methodist Hospital.
- As of right now, I would ideally like to work on an ICU floor after graduation. I would later switch to a wound care subspecialty.
Sally Boucher, Class of 2025, Spring Lake, NJ
- I was drawn to VEMS mostly through my background in EMS and the amazing reputation VEMS has as a collegiate EMS organization. I was unsure about continuing EMS in college however when I met everyone in VEMS and learned about how impressive the program was, I was excited to continue EMS and be a part of the community here.
- My EMS knowledge has been extremely helpful in my nursing classes this year, and I have heard from upperclassmen that it will also continue to help me in the next few years. Most prominently, with my experience working with patients from all different backgrounds and age groups I get to constantly work on building rapport, communication skills, and patient assessment. To me, the best part of EMS is working with all different types of patients and I am excited to apply this to my nursing as well.
- This summer I am working as an EMT on beach patrol in my hometown. I will be one of a few EMTs that are hired to respond to any EMS call on the boardwalk or beach during the summer and work alongside the lifeguards
- After graduation, I am definitely interested in pursuing emergency medicine specifically in the pediatric field. My love for emergency medicine has come from my experience as an EMT and has made me extremely interested in this high-intensity aspect of health care.