Nursing Alumna Interview

Sareena Patel is a 2018 graduate of Virginia Tech.  After graduation from VT, she attended Duke University for an Accelerated Bachelor’s degree in nursing and currently works as a registered nurse in the pediatric transplant unit at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC.

Who or what inspired you to pursue nursing?

Many years ago, I spent the summer in Zimbabwe Africa at the Dzikwa Trust orphanage. Day after day I witnessed untreated broken bones, colds turning into life threatening infections as well as lives lost due to lack of access to life saving vaccinations. I felt powerless. At the time all I could offer was a shoulder to lean on and a hand to hold. My materialistic gifts meant little in comparison to the gift of hope and compassion. This experience not only taught me the value of selfless empathy, but served as the motivation behind my desire to pursue a career in the healing arts. This frontline exposure confirmed the role in healthcare I want to pursue, being nursing. Nursing because it will not only provide me with the skills to heal ailments but also allow me a front row seat to shepherd my patients throughout the process. In the future I plan to continue my studies to become a nurse practitioner as I don’t want my growth in education and multidisciplinary skill to ever plateau.

What did you major in and what inspired you to choose this/these areas of study?

During my time at Virginia Tech, I double majored in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology. The distinctive intricacy of the brain guiding the body and the roles we play in society every day is truly fascinating. I soon realized while we know much of the inner workings of the brain, there is much more we don’t. I wanted to carry over this new research and understanding of both simple and complex human interactions from a perspective of a health care professional.

Do you feel that you were prepared for your nursing school interview? What preparation advice would you give?

To be completely honest, it’s hard to stand out when being compared to your peers. On paper, I was not the best candidate for nursing school. There were many who had better grades, better essays and better experience. But you cannot let that fear and anxiety guide your application process. I focused my preparation on the aspects I could control at that moment such as telling my story, branding myself and creating a network of people who had diverse interests that could help guide me in the right direction. I encourage you to face those fears and be vulnerable, it’s how you show you’re human.  Show vulnerability during the interview/application by articulating what mistakes you have made in the past, how you have grown from them, what concerns you may have and what you stand for as an individual.

What obstacles did you overcome in your nursing journey?

I am currently in the nurse residency program at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, so ideally I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the obstacles I will overcome. What I have learned thus far, is that all of my past experiences is what guides me through these various obstacles. The way I spent my time such as volunteering time at the hospital, and my undergrad research involving experiments on human subjects, joining a sorority, balancing school and social life with familial obligations… etc has supported me in and built confidence to take charge. We believe in memorizing random facts to pass an exam as a way of comparatively measuring intelligence. However, that knowledge means absolutely nothing if you are unable to know how to cope with your own self-induced stress during a code situation. So in short, expect the obstacles, take a second and think, talk to a mentor and do not be afraid because in the end you always learn something new.

What do you enjoy most about nursing?

Having a degree in Nursing provides much more flexibility than any job out there. While we all think of floor nursing first, you can actually use a nursing degree to go into management/health administration, serve as an advisor in all other fields, serve in specialties extending from anesthesia to cosmetic/aesthetic nursing to child life specialists to delivering babies or maybe even administering chemotherapy. You will never be bored with nursing, you will always have a change to be better, to do better and have a career that can fit the life you want to live. I find peace in knowing I am never going to be stuck in a rut.

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