When Brookdale Community College student Marie Rhinow received an email from the college explaining the Nestle plant in Freehold needed temporary employees to assist with taking temperatures of their staff, she immediately applied because she saw it as an opportunity to help others during these unprecedented times.

“Screening the staff and preventing those potentially infected from entering the plant is huge,” said Rhinow, who started the job at the Nestle plant in the beginning of April. “Nestle is a large corporation which distributes a variety of products to the general public. As you can see, just one infected person could potentially infect their fellow staff members who in turn could then infect their families and the public as well.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nestle is taking new precautions to ensure the safety of their employees as well as the public. As a result, new positions were created to monitor the health of employees before they go to work. Needing skilled workers for these new positions, Brittany Butler, safety, health and environmental specialist at the Nestle plant in Freehold, wanted to hire nursing students for these temporary positions. She reached out to Brookdale because she knew about the college’s Health Sciences Institute as well as the positive reputation of the college’s nursing students and graduates.

“All of our students have been doing great,” Butler said of all the recent hires, including Rhinow. “Our employees really appreciate that they are all spending their time doing this in order to keep all of us safe,” she said.

In this new position, Rhinow gets to both help others and practice the skills she is learning in her nursing courses. “This position allows me to strengthen my assessment skills,” she said. “It’s not just about taking temperatures; it’s about being able to put the employees at ease during a stressing time. Being able to communicate with them while assessing them visually and through conversation seeking any other red flags is a skill that comes with practice.” Rhinow is gaining real-life experience while assessing the Nestle employees and helping them stay healthy.

While Rhinow’s position is to assess others, she also has to be assessed before she is allowed to begin work. “Upon arrival, I have my temperature taken, I am asked the screening questions, and it is determined whether or not I am fit for duty,” she explained. She then has to ensure her work area is clean and safe. “I check my supplies, disinfect and wipe my entire work area,” she said. During her shift, she sanitizes as well as uses proper personal perspective equipment (PPE) and maintains social distancing to keep herself and the other employees healthy.

These healthy habits continue in Rhinow’s home life as well. “While I am home I continue to practice my daily lifestyle habits of taking my vitamins, eating healthy, hydrating, exercising and getting plenty of rest,” Rhinow said. “I also believe laughter to be part of the best medicine, so I try to engage in communication or activities that will help me to release those positive endorphins associated with laughter.”

These healthy habits are important to Rhinow because she believes in order to be a good health care provider, you must take good care of yourself. She said she tells her fellow nursing students, “You can’t take care of others if you aren’t taking care of yourself.”

Rhinow began as a nursing student at Brookdale in 2015, but she has known she wanted to be a nurse since she was a child because her mother was a nurse. “I can recall looking through her nursing books before I could even read. I knew then I also wanted to be a nurse,” she said. Rhinow expects to graduate from Brookdale with her degree in nursing in December 2020. “I have been encroaching on my goal while managing home, work and life,” said Rhinow.

“My immediate goal is to graduate with my RN and then proceed on to my BSN,” Rhinow explained. While she knows she wants to continue with nursing, Rhinow isn’t sure which aspect of the field she would like to specialize in; this is one of the reasons she is drawn to the field. “My areas of interest are broad; however, that is what is good about nursing, the possibilities are endless!”

Rhinow appreciates the endless possibilities nursing offers. “My ultimate goal, or dream job, is to work as a fitness nurse promoting health and wellness as well as public health education,” Rhinow explained. “That being said, I leave my options open to possibly working as a health teacher, school nurse and/or physical education teacher. As I gain experience in the above fields and find where my niche is, I intend on eventually having my own business focused on public health education, fitness and wellness,” she said.

With Rhinow’s drive to help others, experience and Brookdale education, she will be able to thrive in whatever aspect of nursing she decides to pursue.

Brookdale offers degrees in nursing, radiologic technology, respiratory care, social sciences health science option and public health. With outstanding faculty, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, flexible scheduling options and history of success, the Health Sciences Institute at Brookdale Community College can help you realize your goals of a career in health care. Find out more at https://www.brookdalecc.edu/health-sciences-institute/