Getting comfortable in the uncomfortable

This post is written by guest writer and MEPN student, Saya Nodera


Where to even begin with this extraordinary place…

Let me start by telling you a little bit about St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center (SMSC), and all of the wonderful things they do for adults with developmental disabilities. SMSC is a facility dedicated to empowering these remarkable individuals to find and reach their full potential. They are able to do this by providing various programs that cater directly to their developmental needs. The participants at St. Madeleines Sophie’s Center are called “consumers”, they are not patients, nor students, as they treat this facility as if it was their place of work. There are three separate groups that are divided into their levels of independence. Those in Activity Center (AC) are able to complete basic self-care needs, interact with others, and follow instructions. In the Adult Development Center (ADC), consumers are supported and instructed in the living skills area that best suit their wants and needs. They require a smaller group to instructor ratio that provides some independence, while still keeping them safe! In the Behavioral Modification Center (BMOD), the goal is to increase levels of independence while decreasing their level of behaviors while they work and participate in meaningful activities. They learn to self-manage and cope with various situations and environments. Last but not least, we have the Senior Center that offers retirement-oriented programming to senior-age adults with developmental disabilities. Besides the seniors, the goal is for the consumers to advance to the Activity Center, and eventually become integrated into our surrounding communities through their employment training programs.  SMSC allows this population to find a sense of belonging, make friends, learn new skills, and find their purpose and meaning in life. There are over 400 adults with developmental disabilities that attend SMSC on a daily basis.

Friday’s have quickly become our favorite day, as we all feel very lucky to be placed here with this particular population. Personally, I have always had a special place in my heart for those with developmental disabilities; however, for fear of saying the wrong thing, I was at times more hesitant to interact with someone with a disability. At SMSC, you don’t really have the time to even think about it, because the consumers come right up to you, shake your hand, and begin to tell you about all of their favorite things or about their significant others (there are some cute couples on campus!). They are so warm, friendly, and filled with so much life! I’ve become so envious of the consumers as they are so present in the moment and enjoy every single bit of it. Mornings at SMSC are very eventful as all of the consumers pull up in their busses, and there is a sudden frenzy of excitement to start their day at work again!

Since we are at SMSC every Friday one of the consumers can be heard letting everyone know “IT’S FRIDAY, IT’S PIZZA DAY!!! YABA DABBA DOOOO!!” (it’s my favorite!).

This semester is the first-time students are actually paired up with an individual consumer within the different departments.  Jessica Wang and I are in the Activity Center department, RJ Hernandez is in the Behavioral Modification Department, Katie Haines and Vincent Ng are in the Adult Development Center, and Kasia Peterson is in the Senior Center! Our goal was to get to know our individual “buddies” and become more immersed into their world and daily activities. My buddy has cerebral palsy and also suffers from epileptic seizures from time to time. He is also on the spectrum which requires him to have consistency and routine in his daily schedule. Although he is 39 years old, he is at the developmental age of 5. On Fridays, we garden and then head over to the computer lab to work on our typing skills, he takes his jobs very seriously. He is also very shy and does not like to interact with myself or others as much. My extrovert self struggles in situations like these, because I would ideally like to have been best friends by now. It’s been a challenging yet great learning experience for me, as I have practiced patience and adapting to his behaviors. We have all been completely immersed in this remarkably talented population and see first-hand the amazing things they are all capable of doing. SMSC provides a safe place for consumers to explore their talents, learn new skills, and be part of the community. Our perception and views have transformed, and as Professor Krich shared with us, “we now see the person, not the disability”.

Our experiences here directly impact the type of nurses we all strive to become. We will be both students and future nurses who will always take into consideration all aspects of our patients, and always treat the whole person. I believe our greatest lesson has been to get comfortable in the uncomfortable, as we have broken down barriers and stigmas that once existed between the consumers and ourselves. We are now working together to reach our full potential!

image1 (1)

Professor Molly McAmis with clinical group

(Katie Haines, Kasia Peterson, Rhoedel “RJ” Hernandez, Vincent Ng, Jessica Wang, and Saya Nodera)


About kathymarsh

Associate Dean at Hahn School of Nursing University of San Diego
This entry was posted in Class of 2019, community involvement, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, University of San Diego and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Getting comfortable in the uncomfortable

  1. Ann Mayo says:

    What a fabulous experience for everyone! Lots of love there!


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