Engaged Learning

National Nurses Week Celebration

Nursing, my second career!

by Kathleen Cho

I have a bachelor's degree in Business Economics from UC Irvine, and while I do love and appreciate my current job, a couple of years ago I had this feeling I wanted to do more. I work in higher education administration advising students to pursue health profession graduate programs, including nursing. Through this process, I got inspired to explore if my advice to students could potentially be a path for me.

Initially, I was looking at my role as a student advisor and wondered if I could transfer such skills into leading patient advocacy initiatives. I initiated my research on academic programs, and nursing came up as the leading result for patient advocacy.

I had taken some science courses during my undergrad program, but I needed to take a couple more prerequisite courses to apply to nursing programs. So, I registered for a science course, after being out of school for many years, to see if I could still do well. On my first class, I got an A! I proved to myself I could do it!

While taking more prerequisite classes to apply to nursing programs, the doubt about starting a second career in nursing was very present. I wasn’t 100% sure it was the right decision or the right path for me. To continue testing the waters and gaining confidence, I applied to the Nursing Volunteer program at UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital. This program gives you the opportunity to work directly with amazing nurses that truly take you under their wings and help you experience what they do day to day.

I am so thankful to the nurses and administrators that support that program. Through it I gained the confirmation that I needed to pursue my second career as a nurse. While it wasn’t “a real-life experience as a nurse”, I was able to see through the lens of a nurse, how nurses work with patients, their colleagues, and at the hospital. I just fell in love with the nursing role and saw myself becoming a nurse.

As I started my application process, there were many difficult times. But eventually, I got accepted into USF, which was definitely a no brainer. The reputation of the School of Nursing and Health Professions is prominent, and graduate students have great things to say about their experience.

I choose USF because of the amazing nurses I saw working in the field, who spoke very highly of the program.

As someone who is changing careers, I would say that it hasn’t been easy to go back to school. It took a lot of brainstorming sessions and research to make the best decision for myself, especially since going back to school would mean an investment of my time and money. I needed to feel confident with my final decision. Today, I can look back on the day I decided to become a nurse and know that I am in the right place!

My heart goes out to those thinking about making a change of career, especially to those considering going into nursing.

The MSN program for non-nurses is even more than what I had expected! I am in my 2nd year, 4th-semester and it has been fantastic.

I really appreciate that our program allows students to go into clinical rotations the first semester, which is not the case for many schools. Clinicals have helped me to assimilate into the role of a nurse and be more comfortable working with patients and other health care professionals in the hospital setting. It is one thing to be in a simulation lab or a classroom learning how to conduct head to toe assessments or how to start an IV on a patient. However, when you are working with real patients, the experience is completely different. This type of hands-on learning isn’t something that is often thought about when applying to specific nursing programs but after being involved as a new nursing student, I would say that this is a wonderful opportunity.

Overall, the clinical instructors, professors, and administrators at the OC campus have been nothing short of remarkable. They have been incredibly supportive and invested in my education. They are not only teaching the science and skills, but the soft skills of nursing that help you to connect with the patient and their families. They provide an extremely helpful learning environment in a safe and non-judgmental zone.

AACN GNSA (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Graduate Nursing Student Academy) Liaison

Katleen Cho's Fellow Students

I got interested in AACN GNSA Liaison role after a discussion with a student from the OC campus. I saw the role as an excellent chance to be involved in an association with nursing students from all across the country. We have an active online community that is open to all nursing students to network and facilitate discussions.

The AACN GNSA is open for all nursing students and provides resources such as scholarship opportunities, webinars, and pathways for furthering your education.

Katleen Cho is with Dean Baker
As the liaison, I have done a couple of classroom presentations to bring awareness to the GNSA and encourage my fellow students to establish membership.

Through the GNSA, I am also taking advantage of other opportunities such as attending the AACN Student Policy Summit in Washington D.C. The summit has helped me to understand the federal policy process and how nurses can be involved in advocating for issues that affect our practice, patients, and our communities.

 I would like to thank Dean Baker for supporting my attendance at the summit. I was proud to be representing USF and look forward to sharing my experience with faculty and students.