August 21, 2009

Back to school ’09: VUSN’s incoming class is largest in school’s history

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Desirae Forte and other members of the School of Nursing’s incoming class take part in Tuesday’s orientation for direct entry students. Forte is studying to be an acute care nurse practitioner. (photo by Joe Howell)

Back to school '09: VUSN’s incoming class is largest in school’s history

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is welcoming 426 students this fall, the largest group in the school's history.

The incoming class of master's students beginning this week includes 211 students with B.S.N. degrees who are pursuing their M.S.N. degrees. Next week, non-nurses who are participating in VUSN's bridge program to earn their M.S.N. will begin classes.

“We are your partners in your nursing education and are committed to your success,” Linda Norman, D.S.N., R.N., senior associate dean for Academics, told the new students during orientation.

Each student has a journey that led them to graduate-level nursing.

For Allison Hush, it is about what she learned as a collegiate equestrian as well as experience she gained working at a camp for children with special medical needs.

She started riding in fourth grade and stuck with it through high school. Hush was captain of her 60-person equestrian team and credits that experience with learning leadership skills and how to effectively interact with people.

But, it was what she learned during summers spent with some remarkable children that led her to pursue education as a pediatric nurse practitioner.

“Each week at camp, we would have a different group of kids dealing with illnesses like asthma, cancer, brain injuries, and other issues. It is amazing how resilient they can be and it made me develop a whole new understanding of how I could help,” said Hush.

With an undergraduate degree in Spanish, Hush plans to use her language skills in working with patients and hopes to “hone her career and learn from everyone” while studying to become a pediatric nurse practitioner at Vanderbilt.

Tammy Trevino has a different story.

Married and a mother of four children, Trevino's second career is nursing. She owned a successful computer business for 10 years before heeding a lifelong call to join the health care profession. She graduated in 2005 with her bachelor's in nursing science and has been working as a trauma nurse at Laredo Medical Center near the Texas/Mexico border.

Pursing her master's through VUSN's distance learning program will allow her to take a majority of her classes remotely while living in Texas, and participate in intensive block weekends three-to-four times a semester on the Vanderbilt campus.

“The people I work with at the hospital are amazing,” said Trevino. “They have so much knowledge and so much experience. They inspire me every day.”

Trevino is pursuing the acute care nurse practitioner specialty. In addition to adding to her clinical experience, she hopes to become a nursing teacher at her hometown college. In the meantime, she confesses, “I'm excited to be a Commodore.”

As part of the new academic year, VUSN awarded full tuition scholarships to Julia Martin (Harold Stirling Vanderbilt Scholarship), Elizabeth Baker (Dean's Honor Scholarship) and Nicole Delimont (C.W. Kempkau Honor Scholarship).