For some of the shifts during her nursing externship in intensive care at Detroit Receiving Hospital, Alyssa McKay carpools with her mom, who often switches up her own work schedule to accommodate her daughter’s. It gives the pair a chance to compare notes about the work they are both passionate about.
“I don’t think she has ever come home and said her job was easy, but I see how much she loves it,” says McKay of mom Alison, a nurse at Harper Hospital and a 2006 graduate of Macomb’s Nursing Program. “It’s been very fulfilling for her.”
Both McKays live in St. Clair Shores in what the Macomb nursing student lovingly refers to as “a home for misfit animals.” A graduate of Southlake High School, McKay knew early on that she wanted a career related to science. An animal lover whose “misfits” include three rescues: a Doberman, Labrador and Siberian husky mix, she considered going into Macomb’s Veterinary Technician Program. But success in her physiology and anatomy classes suggested another career path, and she chose to follow her mom’s lead and apply for admission to Macomb’s Nursing Program.
“The setup and the faculty are amazing. We get to focus on one class at a time. I really like that format,” says McKay, who will graduate in May and likely be hired full time at Detroit Receiving. “I haven’t had one faculty (member) that I didn’t like. They are so smart and available. They give you a lot of help when you need it.”
McKay was elected president of the Student Nurses Association (SNA) last semester, leading her classmates in Thursday study nights soon after. Recognizing that health care professionals are more likely to encounter physical violence than those in less public-facing careers, McKay arranged for an off-site self-defense class for SNA members. Then there was a group trip to Lansing in October at the invitation of the Michigan Nurses Association, where the student nurses learned more about the proposed Safe Patient Care Act. That was followed by McKay’s solo attendance at a student nursing conference in Chicago and, with her SNA officers, coordination of an on-campus professional development day for all of Macomb’s student nurses in November.
“I was not planning on being president, but no one else wanted it. I wanted to change that lack of involvement,” says McKay. “I thought, ‘Okay, let’s make this organization something we can be proud of as students.’ Fortunately, I have amazing officers. They always stick by my side.”
Admittedly, the demands of school, work and the SNA leave McKay with little time to walk her dogs in the park or dote on her little nephew, among her favorite things to do. But she’s definitely not complaining. “I love the nursing profession,” says McKay, who intends to transfer to Oakland University and earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, with her tuition reimbursed by Detroit Receiving. “I like getting to know my patients, and I feel lucky that I get to be the one to care for them.”