LMU Veterinary Medicine Student Serves with National Guard During COVID-19
Victoria Orlando, a third-year veterinary medicine student at Lincoln Memorial University-College of Veterinary Medicine (LMU-CVM) was deployed as part of a Joint Force Medical Strike Team with the Pennsylvania National Guard, to assist at a rehab and nursing facility dealing with current staffing shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orlando served as a Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA) helping care for residents, many of which had tested positive for COVID-19.
“I spent most of my time going from room to room checking on the residents seeing if there was anything I could help them with. This usually ranged from giving them showers to fixing TVs,” said Orlando. “We would deliver meals, help feed residents, get them water, help with basic medical and care procedures, and just spend time chatting.”
The experience was difficult both physically from enduring 12-hour shifts and emotionally from seeing the suffering in the facility.
“Several of the residents I cared for passed away and I hit my breaking point putting them in body bags,” said Orlando. “I had a hard time feeling like I did not do enough for the residents while I was there. It was also difficult for me knowing that most of the residents were COVID positive and their families couldn't see them.”
Though it was challenging, Orlando says the experience had a profound impact on her and taught her the importance of humanity.
“Everybody deserves to be treated like a person, regardless of their physical or mental state. Respect is a necessity at all times,” said Orlando. “I also learned that even the smallest gestures can have huge impacts. For example, I was able to get several of the residents masks and newspaper articles, and they were so thankful.”
Orlando has served in the Army National Guard for seven years. She joined in 2012 and left for basic training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma in September that year. Orlando enlisted as a 68W health care specialist and combat medic and went on to complete Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. She says her experience serving in the Army National Guard has prepared her to be a better leader in her future career as a veterinarian.
“The National Guard has given me a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities. I do not think I would be at that level without the training I have been through,” said Orlando. “This experience has also given me the ability to see things in perspective. Yes, veterinary school is very challenging, but it is a very brief four years, and your whole life is ahead of you. Just push through and move on. That viewpoint has helped me tremendously.”
Orlando looks forward to graduating with her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in May 2021.
Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine is located on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, Tennessee, with additional academic facilities in nearby Lee County, Virginia. LMU-CVM is an integral part of the University’s medical programs and provides real-world, community-based education in a collaborative learning environment. For more information about LMU-CVM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 7150 or visit us online at vetmed.LMUnet.edu.