Queensborough Nursing Graduate Takes to the Sky, Bringing Urgent Care to Those in Need 

Published: May 18, 2022

Many rural communities in Indiana are far from the state’s major cities and even further away from the state’s best equipped hospitals. 

That can spell disaster for people with life-threatening emergencies.

This is where flight nurse Dolores Paul--and a paramedic--transfers the patient by medivac to a bigger hospital in a bigger city.

Paul, 33, says she has the highest level of autonomy in her line of work. “I make immediate critical decisions on medications, cardiac devices, intubations—all without a doctor's input.”

The airlift to the hospital can take 30 minutes to an hour. “From the time I roll in the patient from the copter all eyes are on me from the trauma surgeons down to the administrators. They put their trust in me to make split-second decisions on intervention. I have enormous responsibility.”

Paul, originally from Queens, received a degree in Neuroscience from Queens College (CUNY), where she concentrated in research on lupus patients. But she was always drawn to nursing, and decided to apply for Queensborough’s nursing program, in part because of her mother. “She attended Queensborough and though she wasn’t able to finish her degree she loved the College and had always wanted to go back, so I followed her footsteps and enrolled in the nursing program.”

“In the beginning the clinicals and the coursework were incredibly challenging. I knew that to be successful I had to adjust my whole approach to learning. The group study really helped. If you can’t explain it, you haven’t learned it.”

Paul, who graduated in January 2018 during the Nursing Department’s traditional Candlelighting Ceremony*, remembers that her professors, especially Dolores Weber and Shenaz Georgilis, stressed the importance of patient advocacy which awakened her passion for critical care.

“They taught me that nurses are often in the shadows and need to step forward more on behalf of their patients who are vulnerable.”

Paul wanted as much practical experience as possible, even when in school.

While at Queensborough she worked for an oncologist as a medical assistant and office manager.

Then she moved on through Queensborough’s Dual/Joint program with Hunter College’s Bellevue School of Nursing where she studied on-line while working full-time in the emergency room residency program at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. She graduated from Hunter in September 2019 when she was five months pregnant. Then, at the height of Covid, she and her family moved to Indiana where her husband had transferred to another branch office of his job.

Paul currently works for the agency Lifeline, and has started a paramedic education program in a rural EMS county, with hopes to expand it to train nurses interested in flight and ground critical care transport.

“There is a dire need for nurses and paramedics to keep up with evidenced based practice. We must confront systemic racism. We need these paramedic programs so we can more effectively work with local doctors and obstetrician nurses—Indiana has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the country.”

*Highlights of Queensborough’s academic year include the Nursing Department’s biannual Candlelighting Ceremonies, held at the close of the fall and spring semesters. Queensborough’s nursing program is renowned for its diligence in keeping pace with technology, addressing the needs of veterans, and offering Dual/Joint programs with CUNY’s Hunter College, York College, and CUNY School of Professional Studies. 

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