Nursing Alumna Interview

Thank you for sharing your story, Ms. Rabhan!

Alisha Rabhan is a VT alumna who is a dually certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with over 15 years of pediatric experience in critical care, trauma/burn, oncology, hematology, bone marrow transport, surgery, newborn nursery, and primary care.  She is currently working as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at The Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai. She graduated from Virginia Tech in 2002 with a B.S. in Biology, a minor in Chemistry,  and a concentration in Biotechnology.  She then received her B.S. in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in 2003.  Ms. Rabhan also received her M.S. in Nursing, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner in 2007 and her Post-Masters Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Certificate in 2018 from Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.  While pursuing further education, she has also worked in a number of hospitals around Maryland, first as a Registered Nurse (RN) and then as a Nurse Practitioner (NP).

What led to your interest in pediatric nursing?
I have always wanted to work and take care of children since I was a little girl, just did not know what that career would look like.

Who or what inspired you to pursue becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
I had a 10th-grade teacher for science, and we isolated DNA from an onion versus doing the ‘bug’ project. That changed my life and wanted to pursue a career/direction with genetics involved.

What did you major in and what inspired you to choose this/these areas of study?
I majored in biology, minored in chemistry, and had a concentration in biotechnology.  I came to VT with biology declared. I did not know what my career would be but knew science/genetics would be the backbone.

Were you successful on your first application attempt and if not, would you like to share your story with the students on how you recovered/planned for the reapplication?
I have had many jobs within my profession. My first RN position was obtained since I was completing a clinical rotation on that unit and there was an opening.  My first nurse practitioner job also resulted from a similar experience.

What are some words of wisdom about the application process? What would you have liked to know ahead of time? What do you wish someone would have told you before you began applying?
For many jobs as you advance in your career, you can negotiate your salary, unless there is a set salary standard.

How do you balance the demands of being a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with additional obligations and challenges?
I have learned over the years that work/life balance is important despite being a ‘workaholic’ myself.

Do you feel that you were prepared for nursing interviews? What preparation advice would you give?
I have learned over the years that many interviews are now just a chat/talking with the interviewee about life experiences and just getting to know each other.

What do you enjoy most about being a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner?
The ability to build trust with patients and families to take care of their child especially in one of the most stressful times of their lives.
What was your favorite undergraduate class outside of the nursing prerequisite classes?
My favorite class was horticulture.  I loved making flower arrangements weekly and having a stress-free environment.
How many schools did you apply to and what criteria or resources did you use to select these schools?
For my nursing career, I only applied to Johns Hopkins since they had an accelerated BSN to RN program.

What made the nursing school you chose the right fit for you?
Johns Hopkins had the program I wanted to complete and was still close to my mom (3 hours away).

What memory stands out the most from your first few weeks of nursing school?
Just like any schooling, getting to know classmates/professors and finding my own niche.

What advice do you have for applicants considering a career in nursing?
It is a hard but very rewarding career. Nursing has many advantages since it encompasses so many opportunities to change and further your career.

What kind of financial aid did you need to pay for your multiple nursing degrees?
I was granted several scholarships but also obtain grants for my RN degree. I was fortunate that since I worked full time, Johns Hopkins paid for my first Masters (primary care NP) degree. I then saved money to pay out of pocket for post Masters (acute care NP) degree.

What helps you manage your stress and stay motivated?
Having a solid core group of friends who are supportive, and taking barre class several times a week.

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