I had no idea what I wanted to be until my junior year of high school, in Mr. Smoot’s biology class. I loved learning about the human body, and took it upon myself to shadow a nurse in the Pediatric ICU at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. It was an eye-opening day for me, using my knowledge of human systems to solve problems while simultaneously helping people during an extremely vulnerable time.
From that point on, I framed all decisions about my future in the context of nursing. What classes should I take during my senior year to further my career? Where should I go to college? What programs are best suited for me?
In unexpected ways, COVID-19 has renewed my commitment to the profession. The pandemic has put the nursing career in the forefront of people’s minds, as courageous and compassionate heroes serve others on the frontline. It has made me more eager to learn from my professors, clinical instructors, and practicing nurses — and I am so excited to be just two years away from becoming a nurse myself.
I am fascinated to see what impact COVID-19 will have on the future of nursing. In hospital settings, everyone wears masks and sometimes face shields, and the number of hospital visitors is significantly limited. How will these factors affect nursing as we knew it?
My best advice for prospective nursing students is to study in advance. Find a study group that will hold you accountable for your work. Also, be sure to take advantage of clinicals and hands-on hospital experience. Ask questions, volunteer to perform tasks within your scope of practice, and absorb as much as you can.
As I prepared to select a college that would prepare me for the field of nursing, there were four main factors that I considered:
- I looked for a direct-admit nursing program that allowed me to start taking nursing classes as early as my freshman year.
- I looked for a program that would provide hands-on experience as soon as possible, in a simulation lab or hospital.
- I wanted relationships with my professors in a nursing program that had a low faculty-student ratio. I am honored to represent my class as an assistant in the nursing lab, a faculty-appointed position with only two nursing students chosen per class. It is an opportunity I would not have had had I not built strong relationships with my professors.
- I looked at each program’s NCLEX rate. A high NCLEX passing rate indicates that the school’s graduated nursing students were successful and that their program prepared them well for their careers.
Knowledge is power
Because there are so many different paths one can take as a nurse, it is important to become educated about the various specialties and educational opportunities. I chose the path of ROTC. Prior to graduation, I look forward to attending the Nurse Summer Training Program in summer 2022. This is a paid program in which cadets are assigned to Army hospitals throughout the United States and Germany to learn from and shadow current nurses. When I graduate, I will be a 2nd Lieutenant with a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
Being a nurse is a humbling career path that not everyone can do. It is a calling! Nursing is a field that captivates and inspires me because of its blend of compassion and science. I am confident that I can bring happiness and energy to a hospital setting and to my future patients.
This has been paid for by Florida Southern College.