When Jen Truelove completed her coursework to become a licensed practical nurse, one of the speakers at her graduation said something that stuck with her.
“She said as a nurse you have the opportunity and privilege to be a part of people’s most vulnerable and needy moments, whether it be death, birth, sickness or education,” Truelove said. “You can make a difference in how you treat people, and you can make or break their experience. That has stayed with me, and even after 20 years, it motivates me to do my best to honor that.”
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Truelove, who works at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, volunteered to serve at MU Health Care’s drive-thru testing site (the drive-thru site has since been closed; learn more about testing). She wanted to do her part to help during a public health crisis. Truelove thought it would just be for a few shifts, but after enjoying her first day working outside with a new group of teammates, she was determined to help at the site every chance she could.
“Jen has been such a joy to work with,” said Athena Bouras, who helped manage the testing site. “Her dedication and positive attitude have kept us going through the difficult days. She is always willing to jump in, pick up extra hours after work and help us in any way she can.”
Truelove and her colleagues perform the nasal swab test for COVID-19 and a variety of other administrative duties. Remembering the words of her graduation speaker, she tries to reassure nervous patients by smiling with her eyes and letting them know exactly what to expect from a test many of them dread.
“This experience has reminded me that it doesn't take much time to make a connection with people, and even though our encounters are brief, you can still make it personal,” Truelove said. “I remember a couple who came through, and in our conversation they revealed they were pregnant with their first baby and were going home to tell their parents. So technically I was the first one they told. It was such a great moment as we shared the excitement of it all.
“I also will never forget someone who, when telling me this test was for an upcoming procedure, started to cry as she shared she was starting chemo for the first time. I cried with her but also tried my best to give encouraging words and let her know that we would be rooting for her. So this has been more than taking people’s information or doing a nasal swab. It’s finding a way to connect and project the kindness that’s in all of us.”