When Dustin Magdales, RN, MSN received a Palm Health Foundation nursing scholarship through the George Snow Scholarship Fund last April she had no idea how the world’s turn of events would impact her education and her career nearly one year later. As a DNP graduate nursing student at Palm Beach Atlantic University suddenly caring for COVID-19 patients at JFK Medical Center, there is one lesson she keeps turning to time and time again: the importance of being FAT—flexible, adaptable and teachable.
It’s a lesson she also leaned on during a PBAU medical mission trip to El Salvador right before the COVID-19 pandemic. She made home visits to residents in the remote mountains, providing home visit check-ups and triage in uncommon surroundings. When Dustin returned to the U.S. with her fellow students and professors on March 8, Dustin was once again in an unfamiliar environment as she reported to JFK to find that her neuro step down unit had transitioned to a COVID-19 floor. She immediately had patients with the virus, including a fellow nurse.
“In El Salvador and when I returned to JFK Medical Center to treat COVID patients, I knew I needed to stay FAT,” said Dustin. “Flexibility, adaptability and teachability are incredibly important for anyone in a high stress environment, especially when everyone is dealing with the unknown, a novel virus. It’s a lesson I share with my fellow nurses to help us cope.”
Dustin has also relied on PBAU’s biblical teaching to give comfort to others. Grateful to Palm Health Foundation for the opportunity to pursue her Master’s Degree and on to her Doctorate degree full-time, she has embraced the university’s lessons of providing peace to the sick and dying. And she has found Colossians 3:1-3 to be the most calming for herself to think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. Hebrews 11:1 has given her strength: Have Faith because faith shows the reality of what we hope for. Faith is the evidence of things we cannot see. “Not seeing what is ahead or not being able to grasp something is a scary thought and it’s okay,” said Dustin.
“What patients look for is that you are honest and human,” said Dustin. “It doesn’t mean preaching. It’s about building relationships and making connections to let them know we are all joined together in this life’s journey. That’s especially important right now as many people in their homes are isolated. It only takes a second to send a text to someone.”
Finding ways to connect deeply with others and living by her personal philosophy, “I just love doing and sharing life with other people,” is what makes Dustin an outstanding scholar, nurse and member of the community.