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Read more about their experiences at Shadyside School of Nursing.
Jennifer Krantosky felt a call to nursing since she was a teenager, but it was not until her husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 that a career in nursing became a real possibility.
“While he was receiving chemotherapy, I grew to highly respect his nurses and physicians,” she says. “They were always there to care for my husband while I was at home caring for our child. I found that it took a really special person to do this job. It was then that I knew I wanted to be that person.”
With her husband’s cancer in remission, Jennifer enrolled in UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing and joined UPMC Shadyside’s oncology unit as a patient care technician.
Jennifer says she chose UPMC Shadyside because it was a fast-paced program with high job placement rates.
“In addition, the school has provided me with a strong foundation to begin my career as a professional nurse,” she says. “The strong clinical program provides you with many hands-on opportunities from day one, as well as supportive faculty members who truly want to see students succeed.”
One of the most challenging aspects of nursing school is adjusting to concept-based learning. Instead of memorizing facts and forgetting them after a test, students have to understand the overall concept before analyzing the details, she explains. Tests in nursing school require more in depth thinking.
Jennifer plans to eventually continue her education by obtaining a bachelor of science in nursing degree online, and later obtaining her master’s degree in nursing education.
“Teaching has always been something that I considered myself to be good at, which is another reason why I have chosen to pursue a career as a nurse,” she says. “Eventually, I would like to become a clinical instructor for nursing students so that I can help to set the stage for the success of future nurses. Who knows? Maybe I will end up back at UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing someday, but in a much different role.”
Read about students' experiences at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing.
Graduated July 2015
“What I love about UPMC Mercy is that from the beginning you receive hands on experience. A lot of other programs don’t allow you onto the clinical floor until about two years into school.”
For Rachelle DiYanni and other student nurses at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, no day is ever the same. Whether it is direct patient care or learning about congestive heart failure in the classroom, there is always something new.
"What I love about Mercy is that from the beginning you receive hands on experience,” she says. “A lot of other programs don’t allow you onto the clinical floor until about two years into school."
She always wanted to be a nurse, but chose to take prerequisite courses before enrolling in core classes; however, she knew she made the right decision when she first stepped on a clinical floor.
Her experience on the surgical oncology unit during her freshman year sparked an interest in oncology. Additionally, she enjoyed other unique experiences in her maternal child class, where she visited Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and taught children at the Child Development Center.
Rachelle, a 2015 graduate of Mercy, plans to specialize in oncology.
"If it weren't for the support of my classmates and my teachers I wouldn't be where I am today," she says. "Believe me when I say there is not a better feeling in this world than truly earning and accomplishing a challenge."
Graduated December 2015
“I wanted to live a purpose-driven life. I realized nursing is a way to truly live your life
dedicated to the care of others, and I don't know of anything more satisfying.”
Before enrolling in Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, Marie Stettler pursued a career in many areas, including fashion, music production, and international political economics. She also managed a dental practice in Washington, D.C.
"For years, I searched for something that would make me feel fulfilled," she says. "I wanted to live a purpose-driven life. I realized nursing is a way to truly live your life dedicated to the care of others, and I don't know of anything more satisfying."
The most challenging aspect of nursing school has been time management. Marie balances work with 24 credit hours per week of school.
"I would definitely recommend getting the prerequisites out of the way," she advises perspective nursing students. 'The course load is significantly smaller if you are only taking the nursing classes."
Marie also says that Mercy is a fantastic institution for nursing students to attend.
"The professors know every student, hospitals respect UPMC Mercy student nurses, and it's unbelievably hands on," she says. "I am on the clinical floor applying the concepts I learned just a few days prior in the classroom."
Following graduation, Marie would like to work with UPMC, perhaps in pediatrics. Eventually she would like to further her education and get her bachelor of science in nursing degree.
Graduated December 2015
“Nursing is a career path in which there are
so many avenues and opportunities.”
For Shannon Squires, it seemed like she would always pursue a career in nursing. Her interest in the field dates back to when she was young and would sign her diary with “Shannon Squires, future RN.”
“Nursing is a career path in which there are so many avenues and opportunities,” she says. “I have always loved helping other people, and have been so inspired by my mother in her work as a nurse.”
“Nursing involves being there for people during their lowest moments, and I have found that I can make a huge impact on somebody’s life by being there for them during that time,” she adds.
Nursing school at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing has not always been easy. Shannon has worked hard to manage her challenging course work with life outside of nursing school. Commuting to school from over an hour away hasn’t deterred her from achieving her goals. Her hard work, however, paid off when she made Honor Roll in her first semester.
“I have received immense support when I felt like giving up and quitting,” she says. “I was able to stick it out, learned how to manage my time wisely, and developed better study habits. The feeling I got when I knew I made Honor Roll was indescribable.”
Shannon says that Mercy is a great institution to learn and grow because faculty and staff help students become confident in their abilities as nurses.
For those who are considering a career in nursing, she explains that commitment and dedication are important, especially on challenging days.
“Some days you will feel like you moved mountains. Other days, you’ll feel like you haven’t moved a grain of sand,” she says. “The important part is that you put your best foot forward every day, and continue to believe in yourself and your own abilities.”
Graduated July 2015
"I knew from the start I wanted to help people. Once I began my education
into the nursing field, I found my calling."
Prior to enrolling at the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, Douglas took courses at Community College of Allegheny County with plans of transferring to another school to pursue nursing. He enjoyed his science courses, which helped to reassure him that nursing was the career for him.
“I knew from the start I wanted to help people. Once I began my education into the nursing field, I found my calling.”
One of the best parts of Mercy for Douglas is his teachers.
“It’s really hard to single out one because each of them has taught me so much,” he says. “Instructors like Jaime Price, Karen Rotolo, Kathleen Morouse, Keith Shork, and Corie Greece have all impacted me and showed me their true nursing experience through clinical rounding. Each one has guided me through safe and effective care of a patient and has truly been a mentor to me.”
In addition to supportive faculty, Douglas says learning how to manage time is crucial to success, especially for students who are in an accelerated program.
Despite the challenges, Douglas found a way to succeed as a student nurse. He explained that clinical time is a great way to gain practical, hands-on experience.
“It gives me a true sense of satisfaction when I can reach out to a patient in the hospital and gain their trust,” he says. “I’ve met some of the most interesting people, heard some heartbreaking stories, and some truly miraculous ones as well. Every clinical rotation or assignment brings a new challenge and a new experience that helps me further grow into the path I’ve chosen as a future nurse.”
Douglas found his niche in critical care and plans to work in a pediatric intensive care unit or critical care unit.
“I personally believe in those settings, that’s where you can impact the life of a patient the most.”
Read about students' experiences at St. Margaret School of Nursing.
Graduated December 2015
"I have learned that you don't have time for everything you want to do, so you have to learn to prioritize what you believe is most important in your life."
“My interest in this career stemmed from my mother’s illness, and my desire to be able to help her through her struggles later in life.”
Sarah Noll, a student at St. Margaret School of Nursing, says that adjusting to the work load of nursing school can be overwhelming, especially for students who attend immediately following high school. Through hard work she found a way to balance five days of classes in addition to five days of working.
“I have learned that sometimes you don’t have time for everything you want to do, so you have to learn to prioritize what you believe is most important in your life,” Sarah says.
She advises perspective students to make sure that they are fully committed to working hard to achieve their goals.
“My advice to those considering nursing as a career, would be to make sure it’s really what you want to do, because the schooling is demanding so there is no time for trying to take a break and change your mind,” she says. “You have to be 100% into it.”
Graduated June 2015
"Nursing was always something I wanted to do. I just felt like it came natural to me, and the influence of my family really made me choose this career."
Kennyatta Williams-Herriott always knew nursing was her true calling. After spending time in college, she decided to attend St. Margaret School of Nursing.
“Nursing was always something I wanted to do,” she says. “I just felt like it came natural to me, and the influence of my family really made me choose this career.”
Kennyatta’s day as a student nurse begins at 5 a.m. when she wakes up and gets her son ready for day care. She goes to class or clinicals until late afternoon before picking up her son. Between school work and taking care of her son, she typically does not get to bed until 11 p.m.
Her mentor Mrs. Kozak has been helpful in her success as a student nurse.
“I just love the way she teaches, and how calm she always is,” Kennyatta says. “The way she takes her time to teach and reteach, with her patience, she is amazing. She works so hard for us and she isn’t always noticed for her work, but we appreciate her.”
Kennyatta’s favorite moments as a student nurse were when she received a 100percent on an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) and the time she witnessed a baby being born. Kennyatta graduated from St. Margaret in June 2015, and plans to specialize in obstetrics nursing.