In the Emergency Department of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Stephanie Scoma has played countless games of “who can stay still the longest.”
“It takes a lot of imagination and negotiating to take a little kid’s blood pressure,” she explains. “They obviously don’t want to sit still, so I started to make a game out of it.”
At other times, Scoma takes out a miniature plastic turtle and gently places it in the child’s palm. “Can you please hold my turtle for me?” she asks them.
“They get so focused on the turtle, that they don’t even realize you’re taking their vitals.”
Scoma, a senior nursing major, has dreamt of becoming a pediatric nurse since the fifth grade. It all started when her cousin was diagnosed with pediatric cancer. Scoma spent that entire summer at her cousin’s side as she recovered at CHOP, and she couldn’t help but admire the nurses caring for the children all around her.
“I saw how much the nurses really helped, not only with their patients, but with the patients' families as well,” she recalls.
Since then, Scoma has devoted herself to working with children. Last summer, she volunteered at Camp Ronald McDonald, a weeklong summer camp for children fighting pediatric cancer. As a counselor, Stephanie was part of a team of volunteers dedicated to creating a traditional, wholesome summer camp experience for children whose lives had been complicated by cancer.
“It was probably one of the best experiences of my life. It was actually the same summer that I went to Rome, and my friends couldn’t believe me when I said that Ronald McDonald Camp was more fun. It's amazing to see how strong these kids are,” she says, noting that she plans to return again next year.
As a student at Temple, Scoma brings that same enthusiasm to her extracurriculars. In addition to working as a nursing technician at CHOP and working in the emergency department of Temple University Hospital’s Episcopal Campus, Scoma is also the president of Temple’s chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP).
“SNAP is kind of the home base for nursing students,” Scoma explains. “We offer tutoring to students who need it, we have a senior internship program to help younger students find internships, and we have a peer mentorship program where older nursing students will ‘adopt’ younger ones and answer their questions. It’s just a good way to keep nursing students connected.”
In addition to supporting Temple’s nursing students, SNAP is also dedicated to community service. Under Scoma’s leadership, SNAP will partner with Temple Pharmacy and Temple Women’s Lacrosse Club for the Gift of Life College Challenge from March 14 to April 25 to raise awareness about the importance of registering to be an organ donor.
“Stephanie is surely the most competent and independent leader our SNAP group has had the pleasure of having as president,” says Tish Gill, SNAP’s faculty advisor. “She is an excellent student academically, works as a nurse extern in an acute care setting, and is a highly motivated visionary ensuring that Temple SNAP is involved in meaningful outreach in our community and globally. Stephanie truly embodies the mission of the National Student Nurses' Association, SNAP’s parent organization, in her presidency.”
Scoma acknowledges that her busy schedule can be exhausting at times. “I am still working on trying not to burn myself out and on self-care. I would not be able to do all I do without a supportive family, friend group, and my SNAP executive board and members of the club. I would also like to tell students not to be afraid to do something they are interested in just because their friends do not want to do it. Service is one of the best things you can do and helps make you feel good about yourself and what you are doing.”