Interview with Joanna Casey
When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
I always knew that I wanted to go in to health care. The problem for me growing up was that one day I wanted to be a Physical Therapist, the next a Dermatologist, and the next a Pediatrician. I decided to apply to Nursing school because I had heard that there was a lot of room to move around to different specialties and because there was direct patient care on a daily basis.
I had the mind set going in to college that I would finish my four year program and from there decide what I was going to do. I questioned my decision throughout my first two years in Nursing school, but beginning my third year, I was sure that I picked the correct major/profession.
Were there any individuals who were an influence?
My mother is a Special Education teacher. She works with kids in a different way than I will, but I still think that growing up and watching how much satisfaction she received out of a career that is based upon helping people had a tremendous impact on me.
Did you take any specific courses in high school to help you in nursing school?
I urge any one in High School to take Chemistry and pay attention! If you have the opportunity to take an AP class in Chemistry, do that as well. I have friends who took AP Biology and Anatomy and Physiology in High School and it most certainly gave them a great starting ground. Lastly, take a foreign language (specifically Spanish) and continue it through college. If there is one regret I have, it would be dropping Spanish my Senior year of High School.
What year in high school did you start looking at nursing schools?
I started visiting colleges in my Junior year of High School. My family was a bit unconventional during our visits. Most Colleges have school tours/overnight stays/ options to attend a class. My family and I gave ourselves our own tour, made sure to eat in the Cafeteria, and asked the students any questions we had about their living conditions and opinions on pro’s and con’s of the school.
I liked this better because I found the tours to be long. I wanted honesty and to go at my own pace while visiting schools. I do recommend school tours, however, to some one who wants to receive a plethora of information.
How did you decide what nursing school to attend?
I chose a school that was close enough to home that I could come home whenever I wanted, but far enough away that I would not be home every weekend. I applied to approximately 9 schools and then ranked it down to my top 2 choices and visited those two schools once more before making my final decision.
What factors were important in your decision?
To be 100% honest, a lot of superficial things were important. For instance, I made sure to eat the cafeteria food because I wanted to know what I would be eating for the next four years. Also, I checked out the dorms to see the living situation. I also based many opinions off of what the students told me the social life on campus was like.
Lastly, I went off of the general appearance of the campus because I truly wanted a “Ra-Ra football game, beautiful green campus” as my mother put it. However, there was also looking in to the actual program and the classes I would be required to take, the option of a Minor, the facilities I would have clinical at, and the overall passing rate for the NCLEX.
How important were:
Location: Very. My school is two and a half hours from home and has two train lines running through it that could take me in to the city of Philadelphia, to visit a friend for the weekend, or home.
Cost: Not as much. College is expensive. However, there are lots of scholarships available not only while you are applying, but throughout the years in Nursing Schools. Many hospitals will also help pay for your tuition if you agree to work for them for a few years after graduation.
Reputation/Ranking: I wanted a prestigious school because I worked very hard in High School and wanted to challenge myself in the same way.
Grade Requirements: This is important because you want to apply to a few colleges that require above what your current grades are, termed your “reach schools”, and a few schools below your grades, termed “backup schools”. Ultimately, you want to go where you will fit in based on your capabilities.
Do you feel you were adequately prepared in high school for nursing school?
Yes. Nursing involves a lot of memorization, and application. Form good study habits in High School!
How are you enjoying your school experience?
I am enjoying school a lot. There is a lot of independence gained when you attend college in terms of your living, and studying. Also, hospitals and companies are extremely proactive in recruiting nursing majors to work for them.
I will never forget a time Freshman year when I attended a career fair just to see what it was like. Nurse recruiters did not care that I was only one year in, and they still e-mail me and tell me to keep their facility in mind—that takes a lot of the pressure of finding a job off!
What do you enjoy most about your studies?
I like the fact that unlike some of my friends in different majors, all of my classes that I am taking are going to be used directly in my career. A Nursing major is extremely focused because you are cramming a lot of vital information in to a four year program – however if you are interested in pursuing a minor or taking different classes, there is little room for that. In my four years, I was granted one free elective. I do have some friends who are going to graduate with a minor, but it was not easy.
What have you found more difficult than you expected?
For me, the hardest thing has been the strict schedule of clinical and class. For Two years of college, every Monday and Wednesday I had to get up at 5am for clinical twice a week, and 7 am for class twice a week. This can be tough when you have friends in other majors who start class at 1 pm and somehow manage to end their day before yours.
What advice would you give someone thinking of entering nursing school?
Check out the actual Nursing school facility, ask about clinical sites and schedules, find out about school policies, and sit in on a class to see how you feel. From what I have observed, it has been harder for people to switch in to Nursing school from another major than switch out from it. If you are thinking about it, go for it.
Besides going to classes, what other nursing activities are you involved in?
At the end of October, I will be inducted in to Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society. Also, as a student at Villanova in the Nursing School you are part of the Undergraduate Nursing Senate.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now in your career?
I see myself working with the Pediatric population, most likely doing something with either education of families, or working at a University as a Nursing Instructor. However, like I said at the beginning of my interview, my mind changes all the time, luckily, my major accommodates for that.