Samantha Rose ’23 on Returning to School as a Dix Scholar
What made you choose to attend Simmons as a Dix Scholar?
When I decided to pursue a career in nursing, Simmons was at the top of my list. I attended virtual info sessions and spoke to graduates of the program and people in the field, and everyone spoke highly of the program. I spoke to the faculty, who said that the program is hard work, you meet great people, and get a lot of great experience. Also, Simmons’ location allows for clinical placements at Boston area hospitals, and the program is structured to focus on the clinical setting experience.
Why did you decide to pursue Nursing?
I graduated from Stonehill College in 2014 with a degree in Psychology. I didn’t know what I wanted to pursue next, but knew that I didn’t want to be a psychologist. I love to talk to people and be a sounding board, and I find people fascinating, but I lost interest with the focus on research, formulating papers, and analyzing statistics.
While in school, I did an internship at Dana Farber and later discovered philanthropy. I loved the opportunity to fundraise for an institution that means a lot to me. For the next few years I worked in philanthropy and fundraising at Dana Farber. I spoke with people who lost loved ones from cancer, or who were undergoing cancer treatment and wanted to give back to Dana Farber. I think my therapeutic techniques helped me in that role.
During that time, I got to know some of the nurses who worked at Dana Farber. I admired their demeanor and attitude, how they carried themselves. On a personal level, I saw how members of my family were treated by the nurses at Dana Farber. I saw how nurses listened to their patient’s worries and concerns, and helped them process how they were feeling.
When COVID-19 hit, I was wondering about the next step in my career. I was talking to my parents about it, and they reminded me that I had said if I could do my undergraduate degree over again, I would choose nursing. Meanwhile, I had friends working in Emergency Rooms during COVID, on the frontlines, and I thought, why am I dragging my feet? I need to do this and get in there as soon as I possibly can! I spoke to a bunch of friends in the nursing field and they all said, absolutely, do it.
I didn’t know anyone who had gone back to school for a second bachelor’s — it felt like I was starting over. Since then, I’ve met so many people who are doing this; it’s a lot more common than I realized! I learned about the 16-month accelerated second Bachelor's degree offered at Simmons for people who already have a bachelor’s degree and want to pursue nursing. I had no idea this existed! I started chipping away at my pre-requisite classes and applied to Simmons.
What do you find most rewarding about your studies?
Bonding with the other students in my cohort. I see these people more often than my family — in clinicals, in classes — and we’re always talking through what went really well in our clinical experiences, and what we’re struggling to learn. It’s been awesome to go through it all with a group of people. I didn’t come from a science-heavy background and was nervous about being in a clinical setting with pre-med or biology majors, but it hasn’t held me back. It’s more about having the drive and willingness to do the work. In my cohort, we have different backgrounds and help each other, sharing our strengths. We all have different levels of skill that we brought to the program.
Also, the clinical experiences have been great. The instructors and nurses who are on our floor are amazing, always willing to teach us tips and tricks. They’ll say, come here, let me show you this. They realize that we have a lot to learn, and that eased my worries within the first couple weeks of the program.
What area do you hope to work in?
I want to see everything! So many areas intrigue me. Given my background at Dana Farber, I’m definitely interested in working in oncology. I feel a connection to that patient population. I’m also curious about the ER and maternity ward. I’m going through each rotation with an open mind to see what is the best match for my skills. There are so many different things you can do with a nursing degree — bedside nursing, outpatient — it’s an exciting field. You’re constantly learning new skills and trying new areas, and there are so many opportunities to challenge yourself and expand your career.
What has the experience helped you learn about yourself?
I thought that I wouldn’t go back to school after Stonehill — I was nervous about starting over. But I underestimated myself. Now I know that if I put in the time, I can do it. I’m doing well in the program and I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. I never thought I was capable of this kind of work. I’m now a tutor for one of the courses I took last semester.
How is Simmons preparing you to become a leader in your field?
The skills they give us in the clinical setting, the simulation lab, and the extracurriculars make this program unique. Simmons has been in this field for so long, they know how to produce great nurses! Many of the faculty are also practicing, and can speak to their current experiences — that connection to what is happening right now is a major benefit. The faculty supports us through the work, through clinicals, and prepares us for the crazy schedules of nursing. The exams are modeled after the questions on the registered nurse licensure (NCLEX) exam, and the faculty make sure we don’t just know the information, but also how to apply it. I’ve learned the right mindset for how to answer those questions, and that will help me get through the exam.
Any advice for students considering returning to school for nursing?
When decisions are life-changing, it’s easy to drag your feet — you just need that little push. Look into programs and read testimonials from students. Start taking pre-requisites. Talk to a current nurse to get a raw picture of what to expect. Nursing involves joy and sadness, but that’s why you go into it, for both of those experiences.