What influenced your decision to go into nursing?
I graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. I tried five different jobs and a volunteer internship in the first year and a half of graduation; I did everything from trip leading to Ecology research to teaching. By the end of 2008, I finally realized that my passion was working with people and I began talking to friends and family who worked in medicine and healthcare. I ended up having an incredible conversation with one of the faculty members here at UW in the School of Nursing; she asked me about what drives me and opened my eyes to the incredible opportunities in Nursing to not only help people every day, but also practice in many different settings. The options seemed endless. She also described the research she does with families who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, how she has developed programs to teach families how to help each other cope. I remember being very impressed with how applied Nursing research is, and I remember calling my partner and exclaiming “nurses actually help people and they have the numbers to prove it!” At that meeting, I fell in love with nursing.
What kind of healthcare experience did you have prior to entering the program? How did this experience help prepare you for nursing school?
Since I needed to take a year and a half of prerequisites before getting into any nursing schools in the area, I trained as a nurse assistant to get some experience in the health care world. My first job was as a caregiver in a group home for developmentally delayed adults. I learned so much from my clients and coworkers about the importance of patience and communication. I also volunteered at Harborview Medical Center to get a better idea of what nurses do in the hospital setting. Eventually I was hired by the Intensive Care unit as a nurse assistant and I worked very closely with the registered nurses there for a year and a half. In that setting I learned how integral the nurses are to the care and treatment of very sick people, and the important role they play in emotionally supporting these people and their families. Working as a nurse assistant allowed me to hone my basic care giving skills before entering nursing school, so I am now able to focus on learning the new nursing responsibilities without feeling awkward about the basic care I provide. Furthermore, having a variety of different experiences to reflect on helps me focus while studying new material and anticipate some of the differences between how things are taught in school and how things are done in practice.
What excites you most about your program?
Every new class I take, I am so excited by the new content and exposure to a new part of nursing and healthcare. There is so much knowledge and research here at UW and it is often incorporated into our lectures, either by our professors or expert guest lecturers. I particularly like working on case studies and simulations in our learning lab because it forces me to think on my feet and get practice applying what I’m learning. I also love the clinical placements and clinical faculty in this program. Every clinical placement has provided a wealth of learning opportunities, and the clinical faculty have been incredibly supportive and encouraging.
Describe your most memorable experience from clinicals.
The first time I had to pass medications in my first clinical experience, I was pretty nervous. I spent the night before memorizing the list of complicated transplant medications, their uses, dosage ranges, and side effects. The next day, when it was finally time to give the medications to the patient, and explain what each one was for, not only did I have my clinical instructor watching over my shoulder, but one of my professors, the patient’s spouse (who was a pharmacist), and the transplant fellow all standing around the room listening to my explanation. Despite being nervous, I also felt that everyone in the room was there to help me. What I like about this school is that there are very high expectations, but there is also a lot of feedback and support.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?
By coming to nursing school, I have learned that I am a passionate, dedicated student when I am interested in the topic and understand the importance of it or its application. While I received good grades during my first Bachelor’s degree, I never felt this kind of passion for my subject matter. It is incredibly empowering! Not only am I enjoying the classes I take, but I am receiving positive feedback from my professors and best of all from some of the patients and nurses I work with in the clinical setting. I feel like I have finally found my path.
What kind of involvement do you have within the nursing community and outside the nursing community?
At the moment, I serve as one of the two representatives of my class on the BSN Coordinating Committee, which is composed of Student and Academic Services staff, faculty, and other BSN students that discuss and make revisions to the BSN programs. I function as a liaison, bringing student issues to the faculty and reports back to the students about what is going on in the School of Nursing overall. I am also a class representative on the PONS committee, which is the BSN student organization that plans events for all BSN students. I am not currently working because my class schedule is so demanding, but I sign up for small volunteer jobs here and there when I have the time.
How is your UW education preparing to meet your professional goals?
I love that UW is exposing me to so many different parts of nursing. Though I started this program thinking I would become a bedside nurse, I have come to realize that many options are available to me once I graduate. After meeting so many researchers, clinical instructors, public health nurses, clinical nurse specialists, and advanced practice nurses, I have realized that nursing holds far more opportunities and avenues than I had realized. UW has been the perfect place to discover these various sides of nursing because there are so many inspiring and motivated people there to learn from.
What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to attend graduate school?
After working for a few years in a hospital setting, either with adults or children, I will most likely pursue a graduate degree. For now, I think I will earn a doctorate as a Family Nurse Practitioner, so that I can work in primary care helping families navigate and prevent illnesses. However, I may develop a passion to work in research or pursue teaching, in which case I will return to school to earn my Ph.D. One of the beautiful things about nursing is that these career decisions can be made slowly, and there is always another area of nursing to move into if you find yourself looking for something new. For the time being, I am looking forward to taking one step at a time and building a strong base of bedside nursing on which to build my career.