Kindra Scanlon is a 36-year-old student at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon. She tried out many paths before nursing - Kindra studied Russian and German at the University of Georgia before transferring to The Art Institute of Atlanta to earn her BFA. But her true passion is for helping people, and nursing school has allowed her to pursue those goals. She's currently the President of the OHSU Student Nurses' Association and Imprint Editor of the National Student Nurses' Association.
Study.com caught up with Kindra to find out how she came to nursing and learn what nursing school is really like.
Oregon Health Sciences University, School of Nursing
Study.com: How did you become interested in nursing?
Kindra Scanlon: I have always been interested in nursing. I have had a few careers along the way, from interpreter to horse trainer to technical programmer! I grew up on horseback, so to speak, and love to trail ride through the mountains. I also had a love of computer programming and art. After completing a BFA and moving my way up into management, I decided that it was time to follow my passion and become a nurse. It all started during a conversation with my parents over some good food. I remember enrolling in prerequisites the next day. I stayed up all night estimating how to take the least number of prereqs in order to apply to the most number of schools in Oregon. I was accepted into a few schools, but ultimately, OHSU had the most resources, and had welcomed me with open arms into the Global Health Center to help out with important Global Health initiatives. OHSU really helped ignite that passion I have for helping others. Currently, I also serve on the Global Health Student Group and work as a student member of GlobalOregon. (I programmed and visually designed the GlobalOregon.org website utilizing GlobalOregon content).
E-P: Now that you've been studying nursing for a while, what's your favorite thing about it? Least favorite?
KS: I don't think there is anything I don't like about nursing. I seriously cannot think of one thing I don't like! Is that weird? I followed the wound nurse around the hospital one day (enthusiastically) and really enjoyed assisting and offering the best care possible to patients. I think the only thing I don't like is big messes or lack of organization (of items or products we are utilizing for the patient), because I think they get in the way of our mission. I also scrubbed in to assist the nurse in the O.R. for a surgery and was worried I would be nervous or uncomfortable but it was fine.
E-P: Have you developed any specialties, or do you plan to?
KS: Currently I plan to do Med/Surg. I do want to keep my education a bit more general since I am interested in so many different types of nursing. Originally when I started I had an interest in Geriatrics, but over time this interest has evolved into other specialties as well. Every term with each different placement, I find myself liking the placement. There is a part of me that wants to be a nurse for Doctors Without Borders or another organization committed to global health! My main dream, I think, would be to one day work for the World Health Organization as a researcher and contributor!
E-P: Have you had any hands-on experiences such as clinics or internships yet (or do you plan to)? If so, what was that like?
KS: Our senior year is spent mostly in leadership and in the clinical environment. I will be placed in Med/Surg and possibly some Oncology and am really looking forward to it! In fact, I start this week. This term is not hands on, but more research focused. Winter and Spring will be spent working in the environment and will be hands on. I think that preparation and experience is the key to the hands-on environment. OHSU does an excellent job of running us through important simulations before we assist with patient care. We also follow the nurse around and receive instructions from our faculty on important practice before we enter the clinical environment.
E-P: What brought you to the OHSU School of Nursing? Do you have any recommendations for prospective students looking for a nursing school?
KS: I have many recommendations. I think that OHSU has so much to offer since it is a teaching school with multiple campuses and schools. In addition, the school has many interesting specialists that not only give talks but work with us in the clinical environment. We also have a thriving Global Health Department which I think is a real draw to our school.
Also, know your plan and your limits. I love service and have a great deal of energy. In order to expend some of this energy, I jog and do yoga in addition to school readings and study. I think a good balance of health and schoolwork is important to maintain a healthy outlook and positive schedule. I used to be on the steering committee for a great nonprofit and also did additional volunteer work that I had to step down from because I can only do so much. Students ask me now how I do it all. It seems so natural to me and I love being busy. I am actually doing less now than I was initially! I served on a State Student Nurses' Association for a number of years before nursing school.
E-P: Can you walk us through a 'day in the life of a nursing student'?
KS: A typical day in my life really varies. I might be in class from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for theory lecture and clinical lecture. I may decide to attend another lecture or check in with some of my professors. Part of the day is definitely spent reading! I invested in an excellent pair of glasses halfway through nursing school and it has made life so much easier! I am probably spending an hour or two at the gym expending some of my energy and getting in shape. Another part of the day is spent either in the clinical environment doing research on important hospital projects or meeting with clinical leaders. Once a month, the OHSU Student Nurses' Association has Portland campus chapter meetings which I lead. I travel for the National Student Nurses' Association to Ohio and Utah for conferences during the school year.
E-P: Since you're a nursing student, it's probably a safe bet that you're hoping to become a nurse. Can you tell us more about your career goals, such as the environment in which you'd like to work, the type of nursing you're interested in, etc.?
KS: I do see myself as a leader and advocate for nursing. I love this career because it fits in with my love of service! I love to help others and am not in this field to serve myself, but rather to work for others: for our patients, for students and for other nurses. I am currently considering the merits of the FNP versus the post-baccalaureate DNP (which includes FNP in the curriculum). Also, I am intrigued by the PhD too. I love that my chosen career has so many options!
E-P: Do you have any more tips for someone who's just starting down the nursing school path?
KS: Yes - network with the organizations that represent you early to learn about advocacy from the experts! Connect with the National Student Nurses' Association and your state and school chapter Student Nurses' Associations! In addition, I love to motivate and help students. Find out and research the best possible path for you into nursing. Do you function better on a small or big campus? Is it competitive in your state? Should you graph out the least amount of prerequisites to apply to the most schools? My advice, write out a year plan that includes what organizations you will become involved with, what classes you will take (including what grades - and be realistic). I even put check marks in my plan to make sure I completed essential items! If you meet leaders in the field, research them and find out their stance on important issues before jumping on their platforms. Be informed, prepared and connected! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I welcome emails.