The Frontier community is proud to have students and alumni serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the next few weeks, we are committed to sharing their stories in order to provide insight, hope and encouragement. Thank you to all the health care workers who are risking their own well-being daily to serve our nation. Click here to read more stories of courage and dedication.
The images of firefighters and other first responders running into the Twin Towers on 9/11 are indelible. Risking one’s own health and safety to help others is truly heroic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are once again seeing amazing examples of sacrifice, particularly among healthcare providers who willingly enter the fray every day.
That is what Frontier Nursing University (FNU) alumna Jean Volm, MSN, FNP, Bridge 150, did recently. She was working as a nurse practitioner in pain management at an orthopedic clinic in her home state of Wisconsin. The pandemic restricted the number of patients at the clinic and Jean was let go. As she started looking for other full-time work, Jean also researched travel nursing options. Understanding that New York and New Jersey were COVID-19 hotspots, that’s where she looked first. Within about a week of losing her position at the clinic, Jean was on her way to Hackensack, New Jersey.
“At the time I was let go, New York and New Jersey were — and still are — hot spots of the pandemic,” she said. “They were desperately seeking RNs to help so I started looking at travel nursing assignments in those areas. Ultimately, I was contacted by a recruiter regarding an eight-week, 48-hours per week RN assignment at Hackensack University Medical Center. I arrived here on April 15 and started working 12-hour night shifts on April 16.”
Jean, who works in the medical, surgical and telehealth units, humbly said that “the real heroes are the nurses working in the ERs and ICUs.” But that does not minimize Jean’s own brave efforts as she works in several COVID units, including the hospital cafeteria that has been converted into a 74-bed COVID unit.
Her sacrifice includes leaving her family behind in Wisconsin, including her 22-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son. “My kids and my ex-husband have been super supportive throughout this entire process,” Jean said. “I would not have been able to do this without them as well as the amazing support from my dear friends.”
Via the travel nursing agency, Jean received a stipend to cover her airfare. She also receives a non-taxable weekly stipend for food and housing at a local hotel. Her contract, which may be canceled early if enough staff are available, is scheduled to run through June 6 and she already has a flight scheduled to return to Wisconsin. From there, she will continue her search for her next opportunity — a full-time position, she hopes — and for another chance to help those in need.