Graduating NAU nurses step into the medical field

As graduation approaches, many seniors are finally getting bachelor’s degrees in their desired fields. For a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, students have to be separately admitted into the School of Nursing, which has a different application undergraduates can complete after their freshman year. Traditionally, only thirty students are admitted into the School of Nursing, which displays its competitiveness. 

Taylor Quinonez, a senior graduating this spring with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, talked about her future plans and the effects of COVID-19. 

“I hope to land a job at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and to work in a critical care or trauma setting,” Quinonez said in a direct message. “That’s where I see myself happiest in life, helping the little ones with the biggest battles they’ll ever encounter. As nursing students, it’s been hard to secure placements in hospitals, which decreases the amount of patient experience we get before we graduate.” 

Quinonez also explained the importance of hands-on experience in professional or clinical settings. COVID-19 reminded her of how vital health care workers are, and she explained beforehand, they were not as acknowledged nor appreciated for their courageous actions — ones that put them at risk. 

According to the School of Nursing website, the program provides tools and hands-on resources that will help students become successful in related fields. The curriculum covers disease prevention, primary care assessment, health maintenance and evidence-based research, while also highlighting rural, urban and other culturally diverse health care needs that allow students to advance in different directions. The nursing program is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). A numerous amount of opportunities can be pursued with this career path: rehabilitation, family, hospital, community, public health, gerontological and critical-care nursing among them. 

Senior Demirtria Bowers is preparing for spring graduation with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and she considered her plans during the pandemic.

“I plan to move to the Phoenix area to continue my career in the field of nursing,” Bowers said in a direct message. “I plan to work in critical care units such as intensive care units (ICU) or emergency departments. I believe that unfortunately, due to COVID-19, there are more openings for nursing jobs than ever before … I am excited to be able to work in the valley as a nurse, especially during these times.” 

Bowers said she hopes to work in critical care to gain valuable experience in a time-sensitive area, and afterward, she would like to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner or pediatric nurse. She also said she learned to connect with patients more via her Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

Even though she talked about the big picture, such as wanting to make a difference in people’s lives, Bowers also gave advice for future nursing students and how to make friends in the NAU Nursing Program. 

“Time management [is one strategy], and seriously never give up,” Bowers said. “The entrance process and nursing school, in general, can be very difficult and seem daunting. If you manage your time, school life and social life, and genuinely care about nursing, you will succeed. I have made friends in nursing school who will be friends for the rest of my life. Also, the clinical experiences and hospital clinicals I was able to participate in made all the hard work and countless hours of studying worth it.”

According to NAU’s website, faculty and staff within the nursing program hope students will learn, succeed and lead by completing a mixture of challenging — but rewarding — coursework. Additionally, the program is offered at the Yuma campus and Pima Community College, as well as the Flagstaff mountain campus. 

Even without the strain of the pandemic, the demand for nurses has increased.  According to the Center of Education and the Workforce, which published a five-year predictions report between 2015 and 2020, the economy was expected to create 1.6 million job openings within the nursing field. Although these availabilities stem from newly-created opportunities and retirements, researchers predicted not all openings will be filled. 

Meanwhile, Quinonez gave advice to aspiring nursing students and shared her favorite part of the program. 

“My biggest piece of advice is to not be so hard on yourself and don’t compare yourself to others,” Quinonez said. “It puts you behind on the road to your success. The best part of the NAU Nursing Program is the feeling you get when you step on to a clinical site knowing you’re going to walk out a better nurse than you were yesterday.” 

The pandemic has shown the value of nurses and the hard work they contributed during a global health crisis. For those completing their bachelor’s in the field but looking to receive more education, NAU also offers graduate nursing programs.