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A fellow nurse mourns tragic loss of five Georgia Southern students

This tribute to the five young women killed in an accident on I-16 near Savannah Wednesday morning is from a fellow nurse, Nancy McLaughlin of Woodstock.

By Nancy McLaughlin

Nursing school is hard. And NOBODY understands it like your fellow nursing students.  Nursing is one of the few undergraduate programs in which tears of frustration, sorrow, and joy are practically written into the curriculum. It's like a sorority or fraternity picked by the school based on their opinion of whether you have what it takes to be a great nurse. And you need each other to get you through.

Nursing students rely on each other, cover for each other, teach each other, learn from each other and support each other. And they all share the common goal of one day being a great nurse who can provide skill and compassion to those in need.

As a RN and a former Georgia Southern University student, the news of the tragedy on I -16 hit me hard. Hearing that they were all nursing students on the way to their final clinical of the semester made me feel nauseous.

Although I completed my nursing degree at a different university, I attended Georgia Southern University for 2 1/2 years and had several close friends in the nursing program. I saw the bond they had, witnessed their study sessions, and heard their plans for carpooling to Savannah for clinicals that started at 6:30 a.m.

I've been a RN for 20 years and can honestly say that some of the best nurses I've worked with attended Georgia Southern. Chances are that if you've been hospitalized in the state of Georgia, you've been cared for by one or more of the excellent nurses educated at Georgia Southern University.

I can only imagine the pain of their family, friends, and fellow nursing students. I know the type of bond that exist among nursing students and take comfort that the GSU nursing students will be supporting each other and leaning on each other as they make sense of this tragedy.

I pray that the two surviving nurses receive all the physical and emotional healing they need to move forward with their lives.So many have lost a daughter, granddaughter, sister, girlfriend, and best friend, but we have all lost the excellent and compassionate care of five future nurses.

Georgia Southern University is holding a vigil tonight to remember these students.  I hope that the rest of Georgia will also take a moment to remember these young ladies whose plan in life was to take care of other people.



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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.