What experiences drew you to nursing, and what makes it an attractive career for you?
“My grandmother got sick a few years after my uncle finished nursing school, and I remember admiring how well he helped our family navigate things like her medications, treatments and all of the other care that she needed. I like knowing I could be a resource for my family in the same way.
“At first I was a little intimidated by the long, 12-hour shifts involved in nursing, but you also have the flexibility of a few days off each week, after working, say, three, 12-hour days. I wanted to work full time but not be confined by a 9 to 5 schedule. There is also, of course, the high demand for nurses, and as an RN, I can go anywhere from hospitals to school nursing to home-care.”
Information about the nursing program is available in the Department of Nursing offices in Burdick Hall.
Students who want to major in nursing have to apply to the program. What was the application process like?
“It’s nerve-wracking at first, because you’re told how competitive it is, how many people apply and how few are accepted. If you exhibit an interest in the major, you are assigned a nursing adviser who helps with your questions. Your adviser will tell you what prerequisite courses you need to take to apply to the program, like Human Development, Anatomy and Physiology I and II, and Chemistry for Allied Health Professionals. The application process is a little scary, but the worst part is just waiting to find out if you’ve made it.”
So nursing is a pretty popular major at Towson, then.
“I don’t know if I would say popular, necessarily, but it’s appealing because you finish with the knowledge to sit for your boards to get certified as an RN and also have a bachelor’s degree, all in four years.
How do you think your typical day compares to that of a student in another field?
“Well my fiancée is a biology major, and since I got into the nursing major, I’ve realized that, while both of our majors are tough, the amount of work that we do outside of the classroom varies. He has set assignments to do each night, but I have to be prepared for anything, especially the night before I have clinicals and do patient care.
“Nursing is very dynamic, and there are a lot of surprises. For me, time management is probably the most important, but also the hardest part, and the fact that most nursing students have to work, even though we’re advised not to, makes it even more difficult to fit everything in. On a good day, though, like when you are working with a patient and they are doing well, and your instructor says ‘good job’, you feel a real sense of accomplishment. That makes it worth it.”
How does your work as a nursing assistant at Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) align with your work as a nursing student?
“It has given me so much more confidence to work with patients at GBMC. I remember being freaked out at first, worrying I’d say something wrong to a patient. But after talking and working with patients all day, I finally calmed down enough to realize that they are all just regular people who happen to be sick. I also get to see, up close, what I’ll be doing as a nurse.”
What’s the most interesting thing that has happened to you on the job at GBMC?
“Every day is interesting, but recently I had my first experience with a snow storm. I was confused when I came in, seeing all of the nurses bringing in overnight bags. Then a ‘code yellow’ was announced. I didn’t know what that was, and had to look at the back of my name tag to find it meant 'critical event.'
“No staff could leave, because the staff scheduled to work the next shift would probably not make it in. I worked for eight hours, slept for eight hours, and then worked another eight-hour night shift. It was a new experience for me! It was frustrating at the time because I wasn’t prepared for it. But, all of my co-workers were so supportive, and it turned out to be a good experience because I learned one of the biggest rules of nursing: You never abandon your patients. Oh, plus I got to work my first night shift!”
What are some of the options available to nursing majors after graduation?
“From what I have heard, it’s recommended that you get at least a year of hospital experience on an adult health unit after graduation. There are also a lot of graduate school options, such as nursing research or nursing informatics, which involves designing computer and data collection systems. That’s another benefit to getting the bachelor’s degree – it sets you up to go to graduate school.”