Karen Mascolo, DNP, RN, an associate professor at Kent State University College of Nursing, reflects about teaching her students about the full scope of nursing. In her story, Dr. Mascolo talks about her recently launched Loom Knitted Hat Project, where students knit hats for oncology and NICU patients.
I am a professor of nursing and teach freshmen students, “Introduction to Professional Nursing Practice.” My role is to introduce students to the full scope of nursing including the incredible rewards of a nursing career as well as the challenges they may face. We cover a breadth of topics, but my favorite is helping them to understand patient centered care. Patient centered care requires empathy, compassion, caring, and excellent communication skills – all topics covered in the course. One concept that is sometimes difficult to teach is empathy. It is difficult for students because often they lack the context or experience necessary to truly understand another’s situation.
Last semester, through a series of serendipitous events, I started a hat knitting club with freshmen nursing students. What started out with a group of four students has grown to over 50 students wanting to participate. Students gather every couple of weeks and loom knit hats for oncology patients and NICU patients. Once they complete a hat, they attach a short note of encouragement to the future recipient. This project has brought students together for a common purpose. It has helped them to build relationships with one another and most importantly, has encouraged them to think about the person who is going to receive the hat that they created with love and caring. The objective is to have students deliver the hats to the organizations/facilities that will distribute them further connecting them to the potential recipients in a tangible way.