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Goldfarb Students Get Supplies, Diplomas Thanks to Impromptu Staff Assembly Lines

One of the most prized possessions that new students receive at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College is their first stethoscope. It comes inside a “health assessment” tote bag with other items they will soon learn how to use.   

“When you get that stethoscope, it makes you feel like a real nurse,” said Katie Jett, DNP, MSN, FNP-BC, RN, director, BSN Program Upper Division at West Campus and director, Clinical Simulation Institute. “It’s like our lifeline.”

This passion to become a nurse demonstrates Goldfarb students’ drive to make a difference in the lives of others. Their mission is why they go on to become the backbone of health care in our community and beyond. Thanks to generous donors, The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital partners with Goldfarb to provide scholarships to these heroes of tomorrow.

Normally, faculty would give nurses-to-be their treasured stethoscopes when they started their lab work at school. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Goldfarb campus is temporarily closed to students. As a result, new nursing students could not pick up their tote bags or the separate backpacks containing items for the introductory course in nursing.

Because students were starting their first semester studies online, Katie says it was essential that students have these items. Faculty decided the safest and best course of action was to send the tote bags and backpacks to students via FedEx.

However, there was a lot of work to do before new nursing students could receive their coveted supplies—starting with filling about 200 tote bags and backpacks. Specific items also had to be sorted to fill either the bags or backpacks.

Some students were to receive only the bag or backpack, while others were to get both. There also had to be a determination about which students got which package. Additionally, correct addresses needed to be verified, and the backpacks had to be individually boxed and labeled.

Members of the faculty and housekeeping staff created assembly lines to meet the challenge. Even a security guard helped.

“Nobody said ‘That’s not my job,’ instead it was all about ‘How can we get this done?’” Katie says. “It was about making it feel real for students in such a surreal time.”

Within a week, the project was finished, and the backpacks were picked up by FedEx on May 19.

“What really captured my attention was how engaged everyone was,” says Nancy Ridenour, PhD, RN, APRN, BC, FAAN, The Maxine Clark and Bob Fox President of Goldfarb School of Nursing, who saw team members in action. “They were all focused on how to make this the best possible experience for students under the circumstances. The use of backpacks isn’t new. But mailing them is new. Like everything else with COVID-19, we’re making it up as we go along.”

In addition to the backpacks, Dr. Ridenour says that diplomas had to be mailed to graduating students.

“Graduation at Powell Hall is such a special event for students. This is the first time there wasn’t a ceremony,” she says. “So watching them package up the diplomas was both bittersweet and poignant. The staff was so dedicated to getting it done on time.”

Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College educates students who are driven to make a difference in the lives of others. The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital supports this mission by awarding scholarships to students at Goldfarb each year. We are better when we work together, which is good. Good. For Everyone. To learn how you can invest in the next generation of nurses, please visit

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