Student juggles school, hospital work during pandemic

By: Alex Szwarc | Metro | Published August 23, 2021

 Laura Wallace managed to make the dean’s list for the summer 2021 semester at Lawrence Technological University, all while working in a hospital ICU during a pandemic.

Laura Wallace managed to make the dean’s list for the summer 2021 semester at Lawrence Technological University, all while working in a hospital ICU during a pandemic.

Photo provided by Laura Wallace

METRO DETROIT — Laura Wallace’s message to fellow nursing students is that, when the going gets tough, like in a pandemic, keep going.

Earlier this month, Wallace was placed on the Dean’s Honor Roll for the summer 2021 semester at Lawrence Technological University.

“This is a big achievement to me after working full-time at Ascension Macomb in the ICU and going to school full-time during the pandemic,” she said. “Moments like this push me to keep going after my goals, despite what we are going through.”

The 26-year-old from Clinton Township is majoring in nursing. She has two more years before graduating and has worked at Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren since 2015.

Her current role is a patient care technician in the ICU. She works at Ascension about two days a week.

To be named to the honor roll at Lawrence Tech, a student must maintain at least a 3.5 GPA for the term. Wallace’s GPA was 3.5.

“I’m so excited because I said I wanted to be on the dean’s list,” she said. “I’ve never been on the dean’s list, and the fact I made it during the pandemic with online learning, it means a lot to me.”

In the summer semester, which lasted 10 weeks, Wallace took two classes at the Southfield university: pharmacology and assessment across the lifespan.

“This was my first crucial nursing courses,” she said. “I had some low points during the class. Online learning isn’t the best for nursing. I’m more of a hands-on person.”

To this point, pharmacology has been her favorite collegiate course.

“Pretty much every day, we have to study,” Wallace said when asked how time intensive her college workload is. “When we get out of school, you have to study. It’s not something you can study at the end of the week.”

Wallace said she did her certified nursing aide work while attending Eisenhower High School in Shelby Township.

“Ever since then, I always wanted to work in health care,” she said. “I like people, and I’m a people person. Having the high school class kick-started it.”

Despite the pandemic and its hardships, Wallace said she can’t see herself doing anything else but nursing.

“The nurses I work with are an inspiration to me, and the pandemic even helped me in school because there’s a lot of stuff I’m learning,” she said. “The body is really interesting, and after the pandemic, it’s even more interesting to me.”

Early on in the pandemic, Wallace said work in the ICU was a little scary, calling it a roller coaster.

“It never at any point discouraged me,” she said. “There were some rewarding times and times when you learn.”

Wallace and fellow staff primarily dealt with COVID-19 patients.

In addition to her job at the hospital and school, she works in eyelash extensions and wedding planning on the side.

“I do it every day, and somehow I manage to make it through,” she said. “I have a lot of motivation and self-discipline.”

Wallace noted that some elements of her job and school go hand-in-hand, like advocating for patients and their families, understanding, and being committed.

“As new nurses, the school honors having compassion and relationship-based care,” she said.

Nursing students at LTU are required to do clinicals, which Wallace will begin in the fall.