NDSU student Moehmin Jaffal named North Dakota Student Nurse of the Year

photo of Moehmin Jaffal

After helping family members going through cancer and dementia, as well as witnessing years of war while growing up, Moehmin “Moe” Jaffal chose to become a nurse.

Jaffal was recently selected as the North Dakota Student Nurse of the Year. He received the honor from the North Dakota Nursing Students’ Association. Jaffal is a senior pursuing his bachelor’s of science degree from NDSU School of Nursing.

“My personal experiences have showed me and taught me what it is like to be on the other side of healthcare and be on the patient/family member side of things. It absolutely helps me relate to my patients and their family members,” said Jaffal.

Though Jaffal always had an interest in healthcare, news affecting his family in 2019 impacted his career trajectory when a family member was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“It was a massive transition in our lives, and we could not have done it without the help of our fantastic home health nurse,” said Jaffal. “She served as an educator and an emotional and physical supporter to help my grandmother and us adjust to the new normal.”

Shortly thereafter, another family member received a terminal cancer diagnosis.

“This allowed me to interact with hospice nurses who helped provide comfort care to my grandmother and emotional support to my family and me,” said Jaffal. “These life-changing experiences helped shape the nursing career I am pursuing today. After seeing how impactful of a role nurses serve in our healthcare system, I knew that is what I wanted to do. I strive to become the nurse patients and their families can rely on and look forward to seeing. I want to allow people to feel safe, well-cared for, comforted, and supported precisely how the home health and hospice nurses made me and my family feel.”

The 21-year-old student also set out to master clinical nursing skills and leadership skills in pursuit of his nursing degree.

He first began working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in a memory care facility. “There is just something utterly captivating about going to bed knowing that I helped better someone’s quality of life and eased family members’ minds to trust us enough to go home and leave their family members in our care. Memory care also taught me how to effectively educate family members on patients’ disease processes and care plans.”

After four years working in memory care, he took a job as a CNA in a level one trauma center hospital emergency department. “In the ER, I learned how good and effective interdisciplinary communication works, how to manage your time effectively, properly prioritize your duties and patients, and how to build a therapeutic relationship with your patients in such a short amount of time,” said Jaffal.

He also works as a phlebotomist, learning how to perform venipuncture “to help enhance my IV skills as a future nurse,” said Jaffal.

When not working or in class, Jaffal volunteers in such areas as a neonatal intensive care unit, dialysis center, and hospice. “These experiences helped familiarize me with different nursing roles, both inpatient and outpatient, while gaining more bedside experience and improving my bedside manners,” said Jaffal.

On the NDSU campus, Jaffal is a volunteer for the Stop the Bleed campaign, teaching peers how to effectively respond to a traumatic injury. He’s also the recipient of the Karen Matejcek Wallace Memorial Nursing Scholarship.

Fluent in English and Arabic, Jaffal appreciates the journey that led him to his multicultural and bilingual approach to caring for others. He was born in the U.S., spending his first four years in the southern U.S. before going to the Middle East. When he was 16, his family moved back to the U.S., where Jaffal spent his junior and senior years at Moorhead High School, Moorhead, Minnesota, and was named valedictorian of his class. After his first year of college, he transferred to NDSU.

“My professors are my nursing role models because they helped shape who I am as a nurse today,” said Jaffal. “NDSU helped increase my communication skills and taught me how to portray myself in a professional manner when in a professional setting.”

“In the nursing program, Moe has performed exceptionally well in both the classroom and clinical setting, displaying the utmost professional and academic integrity desired in a nurse. He is highly competent, compassionate, and thoughtful in his nursing interactions,” said Dr. Carla Gross, associate dean of nursing at NDSU. “Moe’s positive energy is contagious, and he helps others to be better.”

Jaffal sums up his approach to patient care. “Rather than only treating the illness, injury, or condition they have, I want to make them feel comfortable, respected, and confident in my nursing abilities. I want to provide culturally sensitive care to my patients to allow them to feel unjudged, heard, and understood. Finally, I want to build a rapport with my patients and build that therapeutic relationship with them to provide optimal and successful care.”

Jaffal will graduate in December 2022. He plans to become an ER nurse and later pursue a graduate degree in nursing.

The NDSU School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions provides bachelor’s and graduate nursing education. Programs are available for part- and full-time students, working professionals and those seeking online educational opportunities. 

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