Accelerated BSN student Paul Sabbatini, inspired by School of Nursing volunteer efforts at COVID-19 field hospitals, wrote the poem “This is Us” to inspire health care workers during the pandemic.
Accelerated BSN student Paul Sabbatini, inspired by School of Nursing volunteer efforts at COVID-19 field hospitals, wrote the poem “This is Us” to inspire health care workers during the pandemic.
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People of the U: Paul Sabbatini

Published on Monday, September 13, 2021

By: Annie Oeth,

Paul Sabbatini had just come home from volunteering and donating snacks at a COVID-19 field hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and was settling in for an evening of studying.

The Accelerated BSN student was tossing around thoughts about the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of nursing.

“I had to get those feelings out before I could study,” Sabbatini recalled, “so I started writing. I had phrases like, ‘This is our time,’ and ‘This is nursing. This is what we do,’ in my head.”

What resulted was “This is us,” an inspirational poem shared by Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, in her weekly VC Notes email Sept. 3.

The poem became a video voiced by Tanesha Taylor, RN, PICU; Cornell Graham, CRNA, Day Surgery; Melissa Taylor, RN, Labor and Delivery; Tim Carter, RN, Pain Management; Britney Foster, RN, 4 Wiser; Drew Stringer, RN, PICC; Tracy Harbour, RN Supervisor, Adult OR; Woodson Lott, RN, 2 South; Kaitlyn Chesser, RN, BMT; Jennifer Prevost, RN, 3 South; Jasmine Jones, RN, 5 South; Jym Jackson, RN, Children’s OR; Nicole Saulters, RN, 2 South; and Tosin Lijofi, RN supervisor, Neurosurgery.

The video has been viewed more than 22,000 times on the UMMC Facebook page.

“I’m honored that Dr. Woodward included my writing,” Sabbatini said. “I’m not used to being in the spotlight, but if it helps one person continue studying to become a nurse or one person to keep on caring for patients, then it’s worth it.”

Sabbatini, 33, came to UMMC’s Accelerated BSN program after earning a degree in athletic training from Delta State University.

In a year, accelerated BSN students graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and take the National Council Licensure Examination, which grants the Registered Nurse license. The BSN program prepares students for entrance into graduate study at a master's level.

“The Accelerated BSN program is for students from a wide range of backgrounds,” Sabbatini said. He applied for admission after work in higher education and at a boarding school in Texas, where he lived for seven years. Before starting classes this year, Sabbatini worked for a logistics company.

The pandemic didn’t deter him from applying to the School of Nursing, he said.

“In January 2020, I was looking into applying, and then the pandemic hit. I still applied,” he said. “That’s what nurses do.”

Sabbatini, who began his BSN studies January 2021, is one of 70 members of his graduating class, the largest Accelerated BSN class the School of Nursing at UMMC has trained. He hopes to become a surgical intensive care nurse after passing the National Council Licensure Examination to become a registered nurse.

One of the first people to read Sabbatini’s poem was Dr. Chelsey Andries, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing.

Chelsey Andries

“When I think of the word selfless, Paul comes to mind,” she said. “When a fellow classmate of his decided to host a snack drive for the Samaritan’s Purse team at one of the field hospitals on campus, Paul jumped right in. He helped collect money, purchase snacks, and deliver the goods. As I stood back and watched as this group of students delivered the snacks, and toured the field hospital area, I saw their eyes open and hearts soften, particularly Paul’s. Something had been stirred in his heart. He recognized the need of health care providers in this unprecedented time and wanted to help. A little while later, I received this poem from Paul that he had written.”

Sabbatini’s poem has become a source of inspiration to Andries and others. “I printed his poem and placed it on my bulletin board to constantly remind me, when the world feels like it is falling, be bold, be brave, be encouraged,” she said. “This is us!”


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