CSUF nursing student finds passion helping new parents and being part of their ‘firsts’

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Amanda Felton, 21, was helping a woman around her age go through labor with her first child. The expecting mother was unresponsive to the medical staff and Felton could sense her rising anxiety.

When the family and nurse left the room, Felton stayed behind and tried to comfort her. As Felton started light conversations with her about pop culture, she gradually started to open up and calm down.

After that, the patient responded to the midwife and followed instructions during delivery.

Moments like these remind her why she wanted to go into the Cal State Fullerton nursing program in the first place.

“Nursing is an art, so you have to be in there emotionally and physically,” Felton said. “As a nurse, you have the power to make that connection with a patient and build that trust with them.”

Felton strives to be a labor and delivery or obstetrics nurse because she loves the excitement that comes with the birth of babies and the stories the mothers share. Felton also enjoys witnessing what she likes to call “the cascade of firsts.”

“Once the baby is born, you get to see the mom and the baby interact for the first time, or the first time the dad gets to look at his daughter, or the first time the grandma and the kids meet the baby,” Felton said. “Those are all super special moments and it’s just a very precious thing to be a part of.”

She recalls waking up at 5 a.m. for obstetrics clinicals, a requirement for nursing students to gain exposure working with patients in hospitals. However, she never minded the early morning because she looked forward to what she would see and learn.

Felton isn’t the only one in her family in the nursing field. Her mother, along with other relatives, work as nurses as well.

When she went shopping with her mother as a kid, they would often run into people who would greet her with sweet smiles and small conversations.

It wasn’t until she was eight when Felton became old enough to realize that those were some of the patients her mother had cared for and that she wanted to make the same impact on others.

Felton also aspires to be like her former clinical instructor, Judy Hervey, who gave her the extra boost of confidence she needed to start believing in herself.

Hervey, a full-time CSUF nursing lecturer and clinical instructor, feels Felton has a “nursing presence” because she continuously goes out of her way to try and understand the patients and spend time with them.

“She just has a very inquisitive mind and she wants to know as much as she can so that she’ll become a really good nurse,” Hervey said.

Her professor regards Felton as an A student, which doesn’t come as a surprise based on how she met one of her first friends in nursing school, John Gaintano.

On their first day of lab for Chemistry 200, the instructor asked students to pair up.

Felton approached Gaintano and asked him what his GPA was. When he told her, she responded with, “Okay, that’s good enough. Can we be partners?”

However, Felton has come a long way since her freshman year.

“She’s definitely been less particular about things she doesn’t need to worry about. She’s been able to prioritize things that are more important than other things so her attention is geared more toward things that are more productive and more efficient,” Gaintano said.

Felton serves as the membership director of the Nursing Student Association (NSA) at CSUF. She has organized a visit to The Painted Turtle, a camp where children with different medical conditions can participate in activities like ziplining and archery, that accommodate to their needs.

Although the nursing students don’t medically treat the campers, they interact with the children so their parents can take time to watch and relax.

Felton recalls playing basketball with a child who had spina bifida and used a wheelchair. He repeatedly told her to not go easy on him.

“Do you want me to like run in front of your wheelchair and stop you?” Felton asked.

When he responded yes, she tried and was surprised with the sharp turn he made as he passed her. Felton said it made her realize that people with medical conditions shouldn’t be treated any differently.

Felton can’t imagine pursuing a career other than nursing.

“I like how it has that mixture where you still get your science, your human anatomy, but the way that we use it to take care of people and heal people is different,” Felton said. “You’re not in a lab, you’re not out doing research. You’re helping people right then and there when they’re sick.”

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