Pandemic preps nursing students for future career

The Waynesburg University nursing program is ready to send the class of 2021 into the workforce as the medical community continues to battle the COVID-19 Pandemic. The program has been honored many times for their excellence, ranking number one overall in value in the state of Pennsylvania and top 5% in value nationwide by College Factual in 2021.

“BSN graduates at Waynesburg University have earned a 100% pass rate on their first attempt of the NCLEX-RN eight times since 2008,” according to the program’s page on the university website.

Two standout seniors, Hannah Colvin and Casidee Millero, talked about their journey to Waynesburg, through the program and their plans for after Waynesburg University.


Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare? Has this been a lifelong goal, or something you were guided towards at Waynesburg?

Colvin: My mom has been a nurse my whole life, so I always got to hear firsthand about being a nurse. Since I was a little girl, I said I was going to be a nurse because I wanted to be just like my mom. After doing some shadowing in high school, I was very confident this was the path I wanted to take. I have always found joy in helping others and I felt led to pursue a career in which I could deliver hands-on care.

Millero: It’s a mixture of things. I have always been fascinated with the human body and biology, and I also have always been someone who genuinely cared about other people. When I was younger I was in the hospital with family quite a bit, and I noticed how much a good nurse could make a difference at such a vulnerable time for the patient and their family. I have always wanted to be that person to be able to make a bad situation better for someone. I used to have a fake stethoscope and medical kit that I would play with all the time when I was a toddler, so it has definitely been a lifelong goal/dream that is finally coming true.


Q:Entering your freshman year, what were your expectations of the Waynesburg nursing program? Looking back, were these accurate?

Colvin: Coming in as a freshman, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been told so many different things about the program and how great it was. I had very high expectations for Waynesburg’s program and the knowledge they would provide me with. Looking back, I believe Waynesburg exceeded my expectations because not only have they provided me with the knowledge and tools to succeed, but I have built relationships with some amazing professors who cared about each of us on a personal level.

Millero: Going into freshman year I had no idea what I was getting into. My brother went to Waynesburg and told me that the nursing students were always stressed and studying, so I just prepared for that. I expected the worst, but I shouldn’t have. Of course it was difficult going into one of the best nursing programs in Pennsylvania, but if you’re meant to do it then you will find a way. I think we need to encourage others instead of scaring them when coming in.


Q: What have been some of your biggest successes and challenges in the nursing program at Waynesburg?

Colvin: The biggest challenge of the nursing program was balancing my time – specifically as a student athlete and other responsibilities. There was a lot of juggling time and late nights involved through the past four years. COVID also presented a huge challenge because it limited clinical experience, labs and in-person classes. Some of my biggest successes were overcoming the challenges listed above. Although I was always extremely busy with sports and working, I was still able to manage going through the program with a strong GPA.

Millero: My biggest success has been learning how to genuinely give competent care to patients of any age. Even though my GPA showed that I knew how to apply information to tests, nothing compares to that face-to-face patient interaction. Some of the biggest challenges were going through this program while still staying sane and having a social life. As a student nurse, we do not have much time to ourselves, but I think putting time aside to focus on your mental health is most important.


Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your experience as a nursing student and your outlook on the healthcare industry?

Colvin: COVID impacted the in-person time we had through clinical. It created a time of uncertainty for the program and it could have potentially made us go virtual again senior year. Luckily, we were able to come back and get that clinical time this year. When we went home for quarantine, I worked in a hospital in my hometown and got to be a first-hand witness to the pandemic. It gave me a new perspective on healthcare because it showed me how important nursing truly is and how resilient the healthcare industry is. It allowed people in general to realize the dedication healthcare workers give to help those in need. It made me feel extremely honored that I am a soon to be nurse and can provide this level of care to the community.

Millero: Oh boy. I was a nurse extern in a COVID ICU throughout the beginning and worst of the pandemic. I had to learn how to see patients fight for their lives in a way that I have never seen before, so it really threw me into the ringers as a young nursing student. It has been a great learning opportunity though, and it made me realize that rules and regulations of the healthcare industry are always changing to accommodate new illnesses. It also made me realize that healthcare is a huge team effort, and that I would have been so lost without our fellow respiratory therapists, nurse aids, case management, pharmacy, etc.


Q: What are your future plans or aspirations?

Colvin: After graduation, I am working in the Emergency Department at Winchester Medical Center in Winchester, VA. I am still figuring out where life is going to lead me down the road, but I would love to go back to school in the future to become a nurse practitioner or get my Masters.

Millero: After graduation, I will be working in the critical care unit at Washington Hospital. After a few years, I would like to go back and become a nurse anesthetist. Along my journey I would love to be a preceptor or clinical instructor because I will love sharing my knowledge to young nursing students who need some good guidance. I will never forget where I started, and having a good preceptor along the way makes a huge difference. I want to be that for someone.


Q: Any final thoughts?

Colvin: Thank you to all the professors who have helped me over the past four years. I have made relationships that I will always admire and will forever be grateful for.

Millero: Any nursing student who ever needs advice or guidance in the future do not be afraid to reach out! It can be nice for people to talk to someone who has been in their shoes before.


This article along with many others are included in the 2021 Commencement Issue of The Yellow Jacket. The full print layout version can be viewed here.