Alumni Spotlight

Wes Atwood RN, ‘16

Clinical Instructor

Amid the scenes now familiar to us from news stories about intensive care units – hospital beds, complex monitors for heart functions and respiration, and professionals moving rapidly under numerous layers of protective equipment – the human element of serious medical care can often seem overwhelmed by all the technology. But that’s not the case with Wes Atwood RN ’16, AAS Nursing alumnus, who makes patient care the center of his work. “I love that I go to work and get to help others through acts of kindness and compassion, all while constantly critically thinking and performing technical interventions,” he said.

As a nurse working during the covid-19 pandemic, Wes expressed that the last several weeks have been challenging. “I’m in awe of my nursing colleagues and how they’ve all risen to the occasion. Nurses are resilient and adaptable; what was initially a very stressful situation has become the new normal. After all, no matter what the goal is to deliver quality care to our patients.” It has certainly been a time of great uncertainty, and Wes encourages his nursing colleagues to continue to take care of themselves so that they can care for their patients.

“The biggest challenge ethically has been providing communication opportunities to patients during the visitation restrictions due to Covid-19,” he shares. Wes expressed that it has been a privilege and honor to be there for patients while their loved ones cannot, and also provide creative ways to help them connect through video communication opportunities when possible.

Wes Atwood started his career as a Patient Care Assistant for two years in acute care and then progressed as a Licensed Practical Nurse for three years in long term care. Deciding he wanted to advance his career even further, he researched nursing programs in the area and chose Maria College because of the support he would receive from instructors. “I bridged in through the LPN to RN bridge program which was also a big deciding factor for me. Through this program I was able to use my education and experiences as an LPN and work toward the RN program.” After becoming an RN, he worked a year in Medical Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery and the last 3 years in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Albany Medical Center.

Based on his own experience, one of the great benefits of the nursing profession is that it is so versatile. “If you find yourself not enjoying the current type of nursing that you’re doing, you can always change specialties or care areas.” He would like to reassure those who have been considering nursing as occupation or those who are currently pursuing their degree, that even though they might feel overwhelmed to enter the field right now, that they are not alone and will have great help from colleagues and mentors. “Nursing is a team sport!”

Now a clinical instructor at Maria College, Wes is able to help shape the next generation of up-and-coming nurses. He shares, “It’s very rewarding to see students make connections from the classroom during real life application at the bedside. I had a great experience as a student at Maria and I want to provide the same experience for my students.”

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