Jason Ly


What influenced your decision to go into nursing?

My first job in college was as a student assistant in the gift shop and espresso stands of a local hospital. At the time, I was a freshman at the UW and unsure of what degree I wanted to pursue academically. After navigating the travails of general, introductory classes, I found that I really enjoyed American Ethnic Studies and Public Health. I’ve always enjoyed looking at social determinants of health and ways to work with underserved communities. It wasn’t until my last year of being an undergrad that I realized I wanted more clinical experience as well. Through my aforementioned job at UWMC, I spoke with many of my regular customers, which were nurses and they encouraged me to become a certified nursing assistant to see if nursing was a good fit for me. It eventually led me to pursue a BSN degree at the UW.

What kind of healthcare experience did you have prior to entering the program?  How did this experience help prepare you for nursing school?

Prior to nursing school I worked as a patient care tech (PCT) in the acute care setting in a hospital for about three years. During this time, I was able to take my prerequisites for nursing school and learn basic nursing skills such as taking vital signs, helping patients with activities of daily living, and overall just being able to gain valuable experience working with patients, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. When I started clinical rotations during nursing school, I felt that my experiences as a tech gave me more confidence. The beginning of nursing school can be an intimidating process for some.

What excites you most about your program?

I am excited about the diverse clinical sites that our students are placed at throughout the Greater Seattle area. I’ve been able to gain a wealth of knowledge throughout my clinical rotations at the various sites, and it has been a wonderful experience to work with different patient demographics as well. I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet many students within my cohort and I’m excited to take these newfound friendships with me beyond nursing school and continue to flourish personally and professionally together. 

Describe your most memorable experience from clinicals.

I have couple memorable experiences that stand out. The first experience was in my first quarter of the program where I got to help with a fecal microbiota transplantation during my med-surg rotation. It may sound bizarre, but the rationale behind the procedure is extraordinary. The second memorable experience was during my OB rotation where I was able to help my patient deliver her baby naturally after being in labor for several hours. It was truly an amazing moment for everyone involved.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a student at UW?

I’ve learned to be resilient. Through perseverance and the support of my classmates, faculty, and family/friends, my goals have been achievable. I’ve also gained valuable networking skills, which I have added to my patient care repertoire. Furthermore, the UW program in particular places an emphasis on developing nurse leaders. Prior to my time at the UW, I purposely avoided anything that entailed being a leader. The education at the UW provided opportunities for me to step out of my comfort zone in a risk-free, supportive environment where I was able to gain a measure of self-confidence and transition gradually into leadership roles. As a result, I became a stronger advocate for myself, which also percolated into becoming a strong advocate for patients as well. 

What kind of involvement do you have within the nursing community and outside the nursing community?

I’m currently the President of a student organization for all undergraduate nursing students at the UW, which is called the Professional Organization of Nursing Students (PONS). PONS assists with planning orientation for new nursing students, fundraising for student programming and events, and it also hosts the annual UW Nursing Career Fair. I also was part of a program called UW Leaders, which is a mentorship program for freshman, sophomores, and transfer juniors. The program teaches facets of leadership and community service through weekly curriculum meetings. Outside of the nursing community, I volunteer my time with the Khmer community in the Seattle area and I assist in planning and participating in events that encourages Khmer youth and non-Khmer youth to learn about the Cambodian culture.

How is your UW education preparing to meet your professional goals?

Learning from world class faculty and their research during the didactic components of the program have allowed me to utilize cutting edge nursing research and evidenced-based practice throughout the nursing process. This has provided for a seamless transition from nursing student to registered nurse. Additionally, the knowledge I have of the UW community and its resources have allowed me to establish a better rapport with my patients and overall, lead to greater patient outcomes. 

What are your plans for the future?  Do you plan to attend graduate school? 

I plan to work in the acute care setting for a couple of years with the goal of transitioning to critical care. Travel nursing is something that I’ve always been interested in. I am also interested in pursuing a graduate degree in community health with an emphasis on emergency preparedness and disaster prevention. Eventually, I would like to combine the aforementioned and become an advanced practice nurse, either as a clinical nurse specialist or as a nurse practitioner working with underserved communities.