SJR STATE ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTS
Tera Gwaldis (2016)
Registered Nurse - Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Each week, St. Johns River State College will honor one of its own in an alumni salute, celebrating the career milestones, community contributions and personal reflections of those who began their collegiate journey as SJR State Vikings.
Tera Gwaldis received three degrees from St. Johns River State College before returning to the College in 2016, not as a student, but as a clinical instructor for the Associate in Science in Nursing (ASN) program. Tera also works as a registered nurse for Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, where her career began after earning her ASN degree from SJR State in 2013.
At Flagler Hospital, Tera first worked in the Post-Surgical/Orthopedic unit. The following year, she was promoted to charge nurse for the Neurology/Stroke unit. Then, in 2016, the same year she joined Flagler’s emergency department, she also joined the faculty at SJR State.
“My instructors at SJR State helped me recognize my capabilities and opportunities for growth as well as my desire to never stop learning,” said Tera, expressing her gratitude for the way instructors encouraged and supported all of the students, “helping each student become successful.”
As a nursing clinical instructor, Tera said that she most enjoys the opportunity to teach real-life skills to future nurses and help mold these skills in them. “Seeing their nervousness on those first clinical days evolve into excitement and determination is a wonderful feeling,” she said.
According to Tera, serving as a nurse in Flagler’s emergency department has transformed her into “a generalized nursing specialist who can treat a newborn in one room, a centurion in the next room, and a trauma case in the next.” She enjoys and appreciates working as a team as well as the opportunities for autonomy her work provides.
“The most satisfying part of working as a registered nurse in the emergency department is being part of a wholly collaborative health-care team whose main goal is to restore optimal health and bring others back from the brink of death,” Tera stated. “It is tremendously satisfying knowing that your actions and knowledge as part of that team literally made the difference between life and death for that person and his or her loved ones.”
Reflecting on how SJR State’s BSN program was most valuable to her and the work she does today, Tera explained, “The BSN program offers a well-rounded and comprehensive program, focusing not only on building nurses’ clinical skills, but also critical thinking, leadership, communication, case management, health promotion and much more. In essence, the BSN program at SJR State has prepared me for a broader scope of practice and aided me in the development of skills required for better patient outcomes.”
As an SJR State student, Tera was awarded the Woman’s Exchange of St. Augustine Scholarship on three separate occasions and the Rotary Club of Palatka Scholarship.
Tera is currently pursuing an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) degree at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. In 2015, she was a featured speaker at Flagler Hospital’s Annual Stroke Symposium.
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Director of Public Relations and Publications