From a young age, Kendall Ayers spent many hours in the hospital with her family as her mom battled Crohn’s disease. Among her memories, it was the nurses who left an indelible impression on young Kendall.
“I watched these nurses who made such an impact on my mom and on us as well,” she says. “They were always super supportive and were there for us all, going out of their way to support and comfort us throughout each admission. And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s what I want to do. I want to be there for someone in their most vulnerable time.’”
Today, Kendall is living her dream.
As a registered nurse on a medical-surgical telemetry floor at Palomar Medical Center Escondido, she helps care for cardiac patients who need continuous cardiac monitoring during their stay. On the 30-room floor, a handful of rooms are now equipped with negative air pressure for the surplus of COVID patients.
Three days a week, Kendall arrives about an hour early for her 7 p.m. shift and starts organizing her night.
Through the next 12 hours, she is moving: getting vital signs, introducing herself to her patients, discussing meds and what to expect for the night. If she has COVID patients—and she usually does—she gets her PAPR (Powered Air-Purifying Respirator) hood and portable generator. Time management is essential, Kendall says, and she is quickly building good skills in that area.
Because it’s the night shift, she is developing another habit. “I was never a coffee drinker before, even throughout nursing school,” she says. “But now I drink it like it’s water.”
Kendall pursued her journey to nursing with tenacity, despite an early bump in her plan.
As an undergraduate at Cal State San Marcos, she just missed the cut for admission to the traditional BS in Nursing, but she learned about another route. After earning a degree in kinesiology or human development, she could then apply to the Accelerated BS in Nursing (ABSN), a 24-month additional bachelor’s degree. Kendall chose kinesiology and her hard work paid off as she was accepted into the ABSN program. As a bonus, both degree programs are based at CSUSM Temecula Campus, just 30 minutes from her home.
“I watched these nurses who made such an impact on my mom and on us as well. And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s what I want to do. I want to be there for someone in their most vulnerable time.’”
Kendall Ayers, BS In Kinesiology and Accelerated BS In Nursing
Kendall completed her kinesiology degree in 2018 and she completed the ABSN program on target in 2020. She started her job at Palomar Medical Center Escondido in January 2021, right in the middle of the global pandemic.
She says her biggest challenge is first-year nerves, and once again it’s the nurses who have offered encouragement.
“As a new grad, I often worry that I don’t know enough or that I would miss something, but I talked to my co-workers and they told me that it is normal to feel that way for the first year,” Kendall says. “I have that foundation of knowledge from nursing school and I keep that in the back of my mind. Palomar is the first hospital where I have felt all the support in the world on my floor.”
Kendall imparts a similar spirit of support. As the first person in her family to graduate from college, she enjoys being a role model for her younger sister and nephews, who love to talk to her about the experience. She offers relief to her mom, as she can give the home injections her mom needs to help manage her Crohn’s disease. Kendall’s background in kinesiology means she also can help her fellow nurses understand why they are injuring their backs during work and how to avoid future injuries through proper ergonomics.
As she looks to the future, Kendall is considering joining the education side of nursing, even potentially going full circle and returning to CSUSM as a clinical nursing educator.
“I’m definitely open-minded in regards to my nursing career in the future,” she says. “I really appreciated and admired a lot of my clinical professors and still keep in contact with many of them. I would love to offer that same support and guidance to aspiring nurses.”
With back-to-back bachelor’s degrees in kinesiology and in nursing, Kendall Ayers had to develop solid study skills. Here are some of her tips:
For our study groups, we would fill out our study guides on our own and then talk about each answer and bounce ideas off of each other. It really helped. That, and flashcards for nursing classes, especially for pharmacology.
I was stressing myself out by not getting the perfect score or missing a point here and there. Looking back, what’s really important is actually understanding the curriculum you are being taught and how to apply it to your future career.
I’m really grateful for the cohort programs in kinesiology and nursing. You get to know each other very well, understand one another and are there for each other every step of the way.
*Group of students who progress through the program together.