RIC student inducted into International Honor Society of Nursing

She is a mom. She is a registered nurse. She has become something of an expert on distracted driving. And she has still found the time to take the fast track to a bachelor’s degree at Rhode Island College.

Kimberly Plante
Scheduled to receive her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from RIC in January, Kimberly Plante has been a registered nurse (RN) working in acute care for 16 years, and has recently been inaugurated into the RIC chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Society of Nursing.

Plante is currently enrolled in an accelerated course of study at RIC that allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing in less time than usual if they are already working as (or qualified to be) nurses. Most of these courses are geared to already-practicing RNs like Plante.

When asked what led her to seek a RIC degree even though she already works as a nurse, Plante pointed to the doors of opportunity that only a college degree can open.

“I felt like I wanted to do more, to do something different. I wanted to reach out more to public health,” Plante said, adding that a college degree makes people today more “marketable” in the business world. Her plans for the future include obtaining a master’s degree and becoming a nurse practitioner, she said.

In a collaboration between the Office of Health Promotion and the School of Nursing, Plante spent the spring 2012 semester doing clinical placement work with Mary Olenn, a consultant for health promotion, and Patricia Thomas, a RIC nursing professor.

Thomas said of her student and advisee, “Kimberly is goal-oriented and self-directed, and demonstrates an openness and enthusiasm for continued education in professional nursing.”

Plante’s main focus throughout the semester was on distracted driving. She organized several events on campus to remind drivers of its dangers.

“This means no texting and no talking on the phone,” Plante said. “This can include anything from putting on your make-up to eating breakfast in the car.”

Plante organized the campus showing of a DVD on distracted driving, worked with a state Department of Transportation representative to make interactive presentations to fellow students and distributed dozens of key chains, posters and bumper stickers covered with the slogan “Drive Now. Text Later.”

Another thing Plante has utilized in her distracted driving endeavors are the red thumb bands given out through the Office of Health Promotion. These bands were created in order to raise awareness and become aware of consequences of distracted driving, said Olenn.

She has taken her message to stop distracted driving to the RIC dining halls, cafés, dormitories, the college quad and the Women’s Center, and has met with over 100 students to date.

“Being a mom of two teenagers made [this issue] hit home,” Plante said. “I felt the need to promote awareness because I feel students in this age group seem to be much more aware of drinking and driving.”

Her daughter, a freshman at RIC, and her friends talk about the issue of distracted driving, said Plante, but seem to believe that texting and driving is less of an epidemic than drunk driving.

“Eight out of 10 adolescents I talk to text and drive, or say their friends do,” said Plante. “The research and statistics are unbelievable. People are killed in distracted driving accidents more often than drunk driving accidents.”

Plante cited both Olenn and Thomas as the people who have helped her to be most successful at RIC.

“Mary Olenn … allowed me space to explore my own technique in the field of health promotion,” said Plante. “She was very resourceful and gave me triggers, but also let me have the independence to find my way.

“She is also very personable and a good listener. If a student needs help or has any questions related to health, I recommend they approach her. They will be happy they did,” she said.

Plante said that Thomas “has been very supportive to me since I started this program. She knows how difficult my life has been at times and has been sensitive to that.

“When I didn’t think I could afford another class, she sat with me and helped me find scholarships. When I seemed discouraged, she told me, ‘I don't want to lose you,’ and helped me through it,” Plante added.

Plante was most recently was inducted into the RIC chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Society of Nursing along with other students from RIC, the University of Rhode Island and Salve Regina University.

“She is taking advantage of the educational springboard that RIC can provide,” Olenn said of Plante. “She is working, she is the head of a household, a parent and a student looking to further her education.”

“She is on a great career path,” Olenn continued. “I see her as a role model for other students, and a source of encouragement. She has got a bright future in spite of her very full plate.”