Not many freshmen take advantage of the undergraduate research seminar, a practicum course that prepares nursing students to engage in research from planning to implementation to evaluation and presentation of results. Alyssa Vilda enrolled during her second semester at Binghamton.
“People don’t often discover the course until they are older,” she says. “I had no idea what nursing research was like, but I wanted to dip my toes in it. I really discovered I liked working with kids and I learned how to better communicate with them.”
Vilda was part of a group that used data analysis to determine whether asthma education helps elementary-aged children better manage their health. Their findings were presented during Binghamton Research Days. She completed training in working with human subjects, became a facilitator through the American Lung Association’s Open Airways for Schools program, and then went to a local elementary school and taught children with asthma how to detect the warning signs of asthma, avoid their triggers and make decisions about their health.
That research experience, along with a three-month student nursing externship in the pediatric intensive care unit at NYU Langone Medical Center, helped influence her career aspirations: Vilda hopes to work in a pediatric emergency department after graduation.
“I just really love that population and the diversity of cases you see. You have to think on your feet and really use your critical thinking skills,” she says. “And I love treating the person rather than the idea that you’re treating a patient with a medical diagnosis. It’s why I chose the profession in the first place. You’re treating the mind, body and spirit, and I try to focus on that every time I have a patient interaction.”
The New Windsor resident knew nursing was her calling by the time she was in high school.
Binghamton University was the first school out of the 30 that she visited. “It was the gold standard for all of the other visits going forward,” she says. “I fell in love with the campus and the welcome I got from the nursing program advisors. Without a doubt, I know I made the right decision. It’s one of the best in the state and as a New York resident, it’s a great value.”
When Vilda graduates from the Decker School of Nursing this spring, she will also leave behind a legacy of mentorship, professional development and networking that will help future students pursue healthcare careers.
The Nursing Student Association, like so many organizations on campus, had to limit traditional social gatherings this school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Vilda saw it as an opportunity to encourage her peers to develop relationships with older classmates and alumni so they might feel better prepared applying for externships or future jobs.
As the outgoing president of the NSA, Vilda oversaw the creation of a professional development chair position. She also designed a series of networking and mentoring events, including a collaboration with the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development for nursing-specific workshops on resume-writing and LinkedIn. There was also a summer job/externship event where seniors shared their experiences with younger students and an alumni week that featured a virtual panel discussion.
“Alyssa takes pride in serving as a role model to current and future nursing students, and her leadership is valued and respected,” says Sara Wozniak, senior assistant dean for the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “She is passionate, outgoing, reliable and has an amazing ability to bring people together.”