Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) is home to an Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) with a twist: among those providing care for the newborns and their parents are a troupe of Colby-Sawyer alumni, faculty and student nurses, including Elizabeth Abbott ’17. Now, she's passed her NCLEX-RN and works in the ICN where she trained.

“I’ve wanted to work at DHMC since I was little,” said Abbott, who grew up in Pembroke, N.H. Her senior practicum at the medical center was the culmination of the years of hard work and dedication she has put into becoming a nurse.

The practicum is designed to facilitate the transition from the role of student to graduate nurse. Abbott's experience in the ICN was particularly demanding due to the extreme fragility of its patients who are either acutely ill or recovering from a premature birth. The stethoscope she used to listen to her patients’ hearts was smaller than a grape. She independently medicated, fed and performed assessments on the infants throughout the day, working to keep them comfortable while also reassuring and educating their parents.

“What I did during my preceptorship is basically what I do as a full-time nurse,” Abbott said. “I originally wanted to work in oncology, but after my externship in the ICN I couldn’t imagine myself being happy anywhere else.”

Abbott was supported in the unit by preceptors Kate Richards ’13 and Katelyn Cormier, a clinical professor. The college’s partnership with the medical center allows DHMC nurses to be contracted to teach Colby-Sawyer students and opens a gateway for a career in the hospital.

“I always knew I wanted to be a nurse,” Abbott said. “We’re lucky as nurses because we get to be there to take care of people at their most vulnerable and help them and their families.” It’s a bonus, she adds, that every day feels like a Colby-Sawyer reunion.