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Alum Susan Dilts' Compassionate Nature
Makes Her a Natural in Nursing


12/8/10


West Windsor, N.J. - Susan Dilts '01 (A.S., Nursing) has always embraced a deep compassion for others. Today, as a charge nurse at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, she plays a key role in helping patients reintegrate successfully into the community. Assessing total patient care, monitoring medication, and problem solving on the spot are just some of the myriad skills she has mastered over the years.

"Seeing patients overcome obstacles is so rewarding," Dilts said. "At times, some can become aggressive and agitated without provocation. I believe therapeutic communication is essential." As a restraint-free environment where staff members try to use as few drugs as possible, Dilts relies on her critical thinking skills and nursing care plans as her guides.

Initially considering becoming a lawyer, Dilts decided that nursing was a more practical path. And, as one drawn to nurturing others, she has proven a natural in the field.

Susan Dilts '01

She attended Mercer County Vocational School during her junior and senior years of high school. There, the honor roll student took certified medical assistant classes and worked at an OB-GYN office. Upon graduation in 1976, Dilts became a licensed practical nurse, caring for patients in doctors' offices and in hospital settings for 15 years until taking time off to become a full-time mother.

The encouraging words of a colleague motivated Dilts to further advance her career by becoming an RN. "I knew that I needed to support myself and my child so I enrolled at MCCC," she said, noting that she chose Mercer for its excellent reputation, affordability and proximity to home.

"Attending Mercer was one of the greatest decisions I made in my life," Dilts maintains. "The lectures and labs were very interesting. I developed critical thinking skills and learned so much. Every professor went beyond the call of duty to help me become a registered nurse. They changed my life."

Dilts recalls one MCCC professor in particular who played a pivotal role in her professional development. "Professor Margaret Fink spent many nights and days to help me understand what I was doing and how to study for tests. She graded my care plans and showed me where I went wrong. All of my professors thoroughly prepared me in all aspects of taking the state boards."

Joining Trenton Psychiatric Hospital in 2001 as a staff nurse, Dilts was promoted to charge nurse shortly after. Throughout the years, she has also reached out to others in her role as shop steward for her local CWA 1040 Union in Trenton, representing nurses, doctors, social workers and clerical staff in unfair practice suits. She is currently pursuing her B.S.N. at The College of New Jersey, which accepted the credits she earned at Mercer. She expects to graduate in 2011 and then plans to pursue her master's degree in nursing.

Tutoring and mentoring current nursing students and recruiting future nurses are high on Dilts' list of priorities. "I have high self-esteem and confidence in my daily work due to my education and training," she said.

"The transition from student to nurse is very motivating and rewarding. I've learned to never quit, just try again. The effort is well worth it. I enjoy my work and look forward each morning to care for people who really need me."

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