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Beach Volleyball Duo Trading in Sand for Scrubs

by Brad Muller

A pair of South Carolina beach volleyball student-athletes are trading in the sand for scrubs as they take part in the Athletics Department’s Beyond Sports Professional Development and Summer Internship program. Rising senior Chase Teal and rising junior Jolie Cranford are getting valuable experience in their internships through Prisma Health.

“I’m at the Richland campus for Prisma Health working as a nurse extern,” said Teal, who will graduate in December with a nursing degree. “I’ve said for my entire life that I want to be a pediatric nurse, but right now, I’m doing a rotation in cardiac, and I love it. I just finished my first rotation at the heart hospital. I’ve been paired with a nurse on that floor, and it’s a lot of learning about what the role of a registered nurse is every day. It’s three 12-hour shifts, which is the normal nursing schedule. It is definitely some long days! It has been awesome! My next rotation is in the children’s hospital.”

“I’m primarily in the orthopedic pediatric physical therapy center, and I hop around a little bit,” said Cranford, who also plays on the indoor volleyball team and is studying exercise science. “I’m considering going to physical therapy school or physician’s assistant school post-graduation. I shadow a bunch of different physicians within the medical field, so it will help me decide what I want to do. I was interested in the medical field because I think it is important to be educated about our bodies and how they function, I wanted to be in a career that helps people, and science has always been the most interesting to me! I’ve always been fascinated by learning how things work, and specific interest in the human body.”

One of the key elements of the internship is hands-on experience.

“My supervisor has a plan for all the kids that come in,” Cranford said. “She’ll tell me the exercise they are supposed to do. Then I’ll help them pick out a toy. They’re very creative in the ways they get them to do the exercises. I didn’t know how much physical therapy is focused on lower extremities. On Thursdays, I’m in the office doing casting with the kids where I help out with the materials, appointments, scheduling, and things like that. On Tuesdays, some of the patients in pediatrics go into the sports med lab with one of the doctors that works with the student-athletes at South Carolina. I’ll also shadow some physician’s assistants, and later I will get to sit in on some surgeries and shadow some occupational therapists as well.”

“I’ve had the chance to watch open heart surgery,” Teal said. “It was a six-hour surgery, and they let me scrub in, and I was right there, next to the surgeon. It was an amazing experience. Every day I was there, I learned something. I’ve seen so many different skills of what it means to be a cardiac nurse. Nursing school teaches you the knowledge and skills that you have to have, but this is where I’m learning the true day-to-day experience of being a nurse. You learn how to manage having four different patients at once. You also learn where everything is.”

Jolie Cranford
“Having had the opportunity to work with people that I could work with in the future is going to be helpful, and being able to see things firsthand is going to help me decide which direction I want to go.”
Jolie Cranford  . 

The internships give the student-athletes quality experiences for their resume and education while also helping to affirm their desire to get into the medical field.

“My parents are both pharmacists, so I’ve always been interested in things that are healthcare related,” Teal said. “I spent a lot of time with them in the pharmacy. My grandfather spent a lot of time in the hospital where I grew up. He had a heart attack when he was young, so I think that’s what got me interested in the cardiac stuff. Seeing the way that the nurses impacted him in what were probably the hardest times of his life was amazing. The relationships he had with them were so great. Some of them came to his funeral, and I remember thinking this is what I want to do.”

“It’s going to help in so many ways such as making connections being in the Prisma Health system,” Cranford said. “If I end up staying in South Carolina post-graduation, having had the opportunity to work with people that I could work with in the future is going to be helpful, and being able to see things firsthand is going to help me decide which direction I want to go. The best part is working with the kids, but obviously working with my supervisor and getting to ask lots of questions about how they treat different injuries and conditions based on their age is really great. Being creative in getting the kids to do the exercises is one of my favorite parts as well.”

Teal is looking forward to getting into the profession right after graduation in December, while Cranford is also excited about another year in the sand and trying to pick up where the Gamecocks left off at the end of last season.

“We ended on a really good note,” Cranford said. “We did the best we ever had in our conference championships. We had a really good postseason, so it was exciting to end with an upward trajectory. As a junior, I’ll have to step up into more of a leadership position, and that’s exciting as it was something I hadn’t done in the past.”