Interview with an Accelerated Nursing Student

I’m excited to again step back from sharing my views and experiences in this blog and let somebody else do the talking. This is my second entry in a series of interviews that I’m conducting with others pursuing health careers. I think that we (as ambitious Future Health Professionals) often get so entrenched in our chosen programs of study that we fail to understand the journeys of others. I hope that this series will allow you to discover not only new health professions (and the various paths that lead to them) but also the motivations of those students who pursue those careers. I’ve already learned a lot.

Katie Simpson is an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing student at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She is an alumna of Oklahoma State University and is originally from Edmond, Oklahoma. I first met Katie in high school and now we’re again on the same campus. I sat down with Katie over lunch and asked her a few questions that I had about her program. My questions are in bold.
 

Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed today Katie. When I interviewed people for HOSA officer positions I always liked to start with the simplest but most important and revealing of questions. I’ve found that it’s been a hard habit to break, so I’ll give you that question now. What’s your story?

Thanks for having me David. In my junior year of high school, I took human anatomy on a whim, and ever since then I’ve known I want to go into health care. My initial plan was to attend a physical therapy program, but after some shadowing I revised my goal to attending a physician associate program – I immediately knew physical therapy wasn’t for me. I applied to several PA schools as well as the ABSN program at OUHSC. I interviewed at a few PA programs but unfortunately was not accepted. I was, however, accepted into the ABSN program. I viewed this as a sign. Now that I look back on it, I think it was a blessing in disguise that I did not get into PA school. I have absolutely loved everything about nursing. I get to spend a lot of time getting to know my patients and I love that. It also works out that I will eventually get to spend a majority of my time in the operating room - my second home! I enjoy being with patients through their surgeries and helping to reduce some of their anxiety.
 

Today you’re in scrubs, but yesterday you were dressed casually. I get the sense that there’s no such thing as a typical day for you, so I’ll ask you a more focused question. What have you been working on this week?

This week I have been doing a lot of studying. I have an exam every single Monday – so this is typically what my weekends look like! I started my psychiatric clinicals two weeks ago, so I had that on Tuesday. I like to try and get my studying done before the weekend, especially on weekends where there is an Oklahoma State football game, which there is this coming weekend. Go Pokes! I try to study enough during the week that I can enjoy my Saturday and then get back to work on Sunday.


Can you tell me a little bit about the program you’re in and who it’s designed for?

Sure. As mentioned above, I am in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at OUHSC. This program is for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject; for example, I have a BS in Nutrition from Oklahoma State. This program is 14 months as opposed to the traditional 24 month program. We don’t really get any breaks, but the hectic schedule is totally worth it!


What qualities do you think are important for nurses to have?

Definitely empathy - I think it is important for a nurse to understand what his/her patients are feeling, but to also keep their personal opinions separate. As a provider of any type you cannot let your personal opinions change how you care for somebody. Communication is also a foundational quality that is important for nurses to have; they need to be able to communicate professionally to colleagues while also communicating to patients in a way that they will understand. In a way it’s like speaking two separate languages!


So right now you’re interested in working in the operating room when you graduate. How much flexibility will you have over time to change the environment in which you work?

That’s one reason I love nursing - the flexibility is amazing. I love the OR and I know that is where I will start, but if I ever get tired of that then I can go somewhere else. There are so many opportunities for nurses in incredibly diverse settings.

What do you wish you had known about nursing school when you first started?

I wish I would have known that I would be able to maintain my social life. It’s actually important for your academic success overall to not overload yourself by studying 24/7. I have realized that the weeks where I enjoy my time off while also remembering to study efficiently are the weeks that I perform the best.

 

Will this be the last degree for you, or are you considering further programs down the road?

I’m definitely considering going further in nursing. I would like to get my first assist license for surgery. If I ever get tired of surgery then I will probably go back to school and get my nurse practitioner degree so that I can practice with a greater deal of autonomy. There are so many roads to take after this first step that I’m sure I will change my mind at least once!

 

I’d like to thank Katie again for having lunch and talking to me about her program and goals. If you’re interested in nursing school or especially an ABSN program and would like more information, I encourage you to send me an email at dkellyhosa@gmail.com. I’ll pass your questions along to Katie!

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