For Alexandria Lovejoy, a knee injury led to a career in nursing
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
When she was a senior in high school, Alexandria Lovejoy of Stanley never imagined herself in a nursing career. A ballet dancer, she had lined up a variety of opportunities in New York City, where she intended to move. A knee injury and a few surgeries derailed her professional dancing aspirations.
She said that as she recuperated in the hospital, she started to think. “I felt kind of lost. I honestly thought my life was ended as a 17 year old. The nurses said, ‘Your life isn’t ending; it may mean your life is supposed to go somewhere else.’ They were so supportive and helped me though that process.”
That experience led her to a desire to help others. At the time, she didn’t know how she would work as a nurse. While she pursued her bachelor’s in nursing at Nazareth College, she took a class on public health and decided to take on public health as a second major, in addition to the bachelor’s in nursing.
“It let me see healthcare from two different lenses: the bedside and the policy and government side,” Lovejoy said. “It gave me a holistic perspective. That drew me to critical care because I saw how much policy and ethics and decision making goes into decisions about those patients and how important it is.”
Throughout her four years at Nazareth, she worked as a part-time care technician at Clifton Springs Hospital and completed a few internships with Rochester Regional Health and Clifton Springs Hospital, shadowing nurses in a variety of departments.
“I realized I loved critical care and the ICU,” Lovejoy said. “The rest of my years of my schooling, I specialized in critical care. I did my capstone placement — the last semester of nursing school — where you’re placed with a nurse you follow and learn from them for a whole semester. You choose a specialty you want to follow in. I chose the ICU.”
She graduated in 2019. Her experience at Clifton Springs led her to accept a position as registered nurse in the intensive care unit at Clifton Springs Hospital, where she currently works.
The variety of patients she sees — and the health needs they have — challenges Lovejoy.
“Each person is very, very different,” she said. “Treatment plans may look very similar on paper but the person is so much more than the diagnosis itself. It’s really important to learn about the patient, family and the barriers that may prevent successful completion or execution of the treatment plan.
“Nurses get the opportunity to see those barriers and psycho-social dynamics. In critical care, it’s not the patients, necessarily, who can talk with you. It’s important that the family is educated and that we’re advocating for the patient. It’s such a privilege and also a challenge.”
She said that it’s important for her to treat patients as individuals beyond their diagnosis.
“As a newer nurse, that’s something I’m continuing to learn how to get better at,” Lovejoy said.
She said that her nursing mentors at Rochester Regional Health and Clifton Springs Hospital have helped her develop how she relates to patients and their families.
“One thing I’ve done in my practice is I talk with patients even if they can’t talk with me,” she said. “I truly believe they can hear, even if they can’t respond. Just talking with them helps me see them more as a person. Talking with the family helps, too, as they give insights as to what the person is like when they’re not lying in an ICU bed. They help bring that perspective that they’re more than a person trying to get through this hard time in their life. It gives us motivation to help us get them back to their baseline.”
It’s those human connections that she said she enjoys most about nursing, along with seeing patients meet their goals, whether that means recovery or if that’s not possible, “adapting to whatever their new life is going to look like. I love being able to be there and supporting the family and patient.”
Recently, Lovejoy was accepted into Keuka College’s two-year adult/gerontology practitioner program.
“That will enable me to be in a provider role,” Lovejoy said. “I will be able to diagnose, treat and prescribe and come up with treatment plans for patients. As a nurse, you execute treatment plans; as a nurse practitioner, you make the plans.”
In her free time, Lovejoy likes to stay active hiking and traveling.